November 25, 2015

Santa comes to a mall near you — for a price

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By: Robert McCoppin and Vikki Ortiz Healy

November 6, 2015

In Chicago, Santa headquarters have been moved from Daley Plaza to Millennium Park, to keep him close to the new home of the giant Christmas tree, as well as the ice skating rink and caroling at Cloud Gate, said Mary May, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Visits with Santa are free, and families are asked to bring their own cameras for photographs.

For retailers, elaborate holiday events in recent years might be their way of standing out, said Rob Albertson, marketing director for Bandwidth Marketing Group in Chicago.

“There’s so much advertising out there, there’s a feeling by retailers that they have to shout louder and be bigger,” he said.

But there’s hope for those who long for simpler times, he said. Marketing experts have noticed a backlash from the public and some retailers who refuse to succumb to today’s commercial trends, such as letting Black Friday creep into Thanksgiving and charging for pictures with Santa.

“When things become too big or too grand or too monetized, there’s a nice pendulum shift back,” he said. “… There’s an inevitable — and hopefully a positive — flow back to the center where people value the O. Henry aspect of the holidays again.”