A Christmas Story- 2009

I fell asleep Christmas eve sometime during the first few hours of the 24-hour “A Christmas Story” marathon being shown on TBS. When I awoke the next morning the movie replayed another four or five times as I opened gifts and talked with family members on the phone (decided not to even turn on the computer for a whole day).

All the repetition left the words “Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle” etched into my brain so when I finally sat back down at the keyboard I thought I’d take a look at how Ralphie went about planting the idea in the minds of his parents and how today’s technology would change his approach.

First though we’ll take a look at the tactics employed in the movie. The first is the direct approach. This involved Ralphie telling his parents exactly what he wanted. He also used inserted ads for the rifle into his parent’s magazines so they would have to look at them while reading, sort of like a predecessor to pop up ads today. Ralphie also sought to bring third parties into his marketing mix, using a writing assignment from class to extol the virtues of the air rifle as an excellent gift, as opposed to a football. When it appeared that all other avenues may not have worked, Ralphie went to see Santa, and after a brief period of brain freeze in which he agrees that a football would make a good gift (contrary to his previous written statement), he snaps out of it and asks Santa for the rifle.

Of course in nearly all cases in the movie, these attempts are met with the rebuke “You’ll shoot your eye out” but it all works out in the end.

So how would things be different today?

The idea of using flyers or ads inserted into things Ralphie’s parents might read could still hold. He could use a computer though to Photoshop himself into a picture of Red Ryder with the bb gun fighting bad guys. He could also include links in emails or other messages that go to the Red Ryder site or to local merchants or online retailers that carry the rifle.

A more subtle and nostalgic approach would be to find Red Ryder clips on YouTube and watch them in view of his parents. If the show only existed on the radio he could find mp3s and download them to listen to as well. He could also download ringtones for his and their cell phones featuring sayings from Red Ryder.

To counter the “You’ll shoot your eye out argument” internet reasearch could be done and links forwarded about how the handling of air rifles teaches responsibility, articles about safety equipment and proper shooting (including not using metal signs as target stands) as well as links to blogs and other sites extolling the virtues of the “Red Ryder” bb gun.


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