3 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid: Lessons from Ralphie and the Classic Flick, A Christmas Story


Don't get stuck with an "Oh FUDGE" marketing situation. Avoid these three marketing mistakes.

The holidays are around the corner and my family has been watching weekly Christmas movies to get into the spirit of the season. The classic holiday movie A Christmas Story is chock-full of life-cycle marketing themes. You can catch this fun flick during the annual 24-hour TBS marathon Christmas Eve through Christmas Day.

Follow these three simple Christmas Story marketing lessons to avoid dropping the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the "F-dash-dash-dash" word in the New Year.


Ralphie is obsessed with the Little Orphan Annie radio show. In the 1940s, radio shows were sponsored by advertisers, so product advertising was often woven right into the storyline. Every day Ralphie insistently checks his mailbox for his decoder ring. He is literally glowing with pride in the scene above as he reads his official Secret Circle letter.

“Be it known to all in summary that Ralph Parker is hereby appointed a member of the Little Orphan Annie Secret Circle and is entitled to all the honors and benefits occurring thereto.”

The Big Lesson: Identify top clients, prospects and influencers and invite them into your inner circle.

Reserving special deals for your favored customers is a powerful incentive to do business with you again and again. Nurture your relationships and turn your current customers into brand advocates.


After waiting what seemed like FOREVER for his secret decoder ring, Ralphie frantically decodes the secret message in the family bathroom, while his little brother bangs on the door. His face falls as he reads the exclusive message:

“A cr3 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid: Lessons from Ralphie and the Classic Flick, A Christmas Storyummy commercial? Son of a bitch…”

The Big Lesson: The radio show’s major marketing mistake? Inviting their super-fans into the club, but then failing to deliver as promised. Had Ovaltine delivered on the hype created, they might have earned a customer for life.

Don’t make the same mistake by hammering your biggest fans with a never-ending sales pitch. Instead, offer them value for their attention with information, entertainment, personal attention and brand-appropriate swag.

Leading customers on with empty promises is never a good marketing strategy. The best marketing campaigns tap into customer passions and build brand engagement. If your marketing team nourishes engagement throughout the life cycle marketing process, you can avoid these marketing mistakes—and ensure your Ralphies are happy campers.


Ralphie has his heart set on “an official Red Ryder carbine action, two-hundred shot, range model air rifle”—and he’s not giving up until he gets one. He expresses his desire no less than 23 times during the movie, even though his mother, his teacher, and even Santa Claus warns him…

"You'll shoot your eye out."

Of course, persistence pays off when Ralphie's dad unexpectedly comes through.

The Big Lesson: That same kind of persistence can pay off in your marketing, especially when you work multiple marketing channels. In today's world of marketing you need to measure, analyze, and calibrate your strategies based on real-time data. If your marketing campaign didn’t work as well as you’d hoped, reevaluate your target markets, shift your message and/or attempt a different method of delivery.

What is your favorite Christmas Story scene? Let's chat in the comments.

Happy Holidays!