After being targeted with a boycott by the American Family Association as an anti-Christian retailer, GAP began airing a commercial that does use the word “Christmas.” But it also mentions Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the pagan-y Winter Solstice. It even says you should celebrate however “you wannukah.” MEOW.
The ad’s been running for a least a week and popped up on YouTube a couple of days ago. Did GAP’s ad agency already have this in the pipeline or is it a sly “fuck you” to the AFA? We hope it’s the latter. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times argues that negative notice from the AFA actually helps the bottom line.
Perhaps the AFA did Gap a favor. If you look at the history of the organization’s boycotts — often involving punitive actions against companies that support gay rights — you’ll see that they have no commercial impact. Actually, these boycotts seem to be good for business: In the decade of the AFA’s boycott against Disney, which ended in 2006, the world’s largest entertainment conglomerate’s revenue roughly doubled to $34 billion. Likewise for Ford, which just posted a billion-dollar profit in the third quarter of 2009.
I’m not suggesting causality, but condemnation by the AFA does seem to be a kind of lucky charm for big business. Personally, I am inclined to patronize Gap as a statement of cultural tolerance, even though at my age I look like an overcooked ballpark frank in its clothes. The big loser here is the AFA. The annual War-on-Christmas drumbeat is absolutely not about defending the sacredness of Christmas. It is instead — transparently — marketing, a ratings gambit for Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, and for the AFA, the centerpiece of its annual fundraising. This year, thanks to Gap, the AFA fumbled its boycott ball and in the process managed to look both intolerant and out of touch. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.