Peeps of the World Unite!
Should Easter be Business as Usual?
There appears to be a conversation brewing that envisions restarting the economy and having the church pews packed in time for Easter Sunday. I have empathy for moral leaders who have to weigh such considerations. But it’s interesting to note that a vast number of religious organizations have already taken steps to promote social distancing while providing much-needed services online. It seems that they are prepared to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to be connected online, and onsite religious services are lifelines of connectivity to many people. There is an apparent disconnect here. In fact, a few of the religious communities’ “lobbying organizations” are now promoting Easter Sunday on “The Hill.”
I understand the historical and astrological aspects of how the date of Easter Sunday is calculated. It changes every year. Jesus was neither resurrected on April 12th, nor was he born on December 25th. These dates are tied to ancient celebrations to assist early converts into Christian rituals. I also understand that throughout history, we’ve held onto our religious traditions for strength and hope in other uncertain times. Easter is a celebration of re-birth and the conquering of death. Why not double down and (hopefully) celebrate it in conjunction with a modern triumph once the “all clear” sign is given by doctors and scientists as it relates to Covid-19?
In these times, I think we should be looking toward the similarities of Christian and Jewish faiths. Passover and Easter both address the paradoxes of both death and life. Interestingly, during the original “Passover,” to survive the angel of death, the Israelites quarantined themselves and smeared the blood of a sacrificed lamb over their doors. We are simply being asked to stay inside and/or promote social distancing. Good news for animal lovers. Perhaps this year, we should join our Jewish friends to observe or, at a minimum, reflect on this timely religious occasion, which happens this April 8th–16th.
A few days ago, I was reading a post from Scott Galloway (@profgalloway), a professor at NYU. He is also a highly-regarded, successful serial entrepreneur and thought-leader who founded RedEnvelope (an early e-commerce gift retailer). I was privileged to be a part of that company’s marketing team in its early days. In his post, Galloway was discussing crisis management, and the gist of his position is that you must overcorrect to protect your brand while in crisis. In this case, our “brand” is Humanity. Galloway’s three steps in crisis management are the following.
1. Top guy/gal takes responsibility
2. Acknowledge the issue
As it relates to Covid-19, we all need to be the “top guy/gal” to take responsibility. We all must acknowledge the issue. And we must all OVERCORRECT. Often times in business, you may not have the authority to be bold. Senior management needs to get involved. While we might have a plethora of Christian sects and denominations, if I had to place a bet, I’d say Pope Francis (@Pontifex) is the Man. I like him. He seems to be a good guy. I’d love to meet him. (In full disclosure I’m Episcopalian, not Catholic, but we have had many of our children attend Catholic school).
So, here’s the pitch to the Pope. At a minimum, put it out on the table for discussion. If the drum-beating gets any louder, please consider postponing the “celebration” of Easter to prevent us from acting on a potentially dangerous idea. We hold Easter in our hearts, not in our calendars. I’m not suggesting that it be canceled. I’m not a proponent of the “Cancel Culture,” I prefer open dialogue to solve problems. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s Easter parade. And I certainly don’t want to be remembered as the Grinch who stole Easter. Just move the goalposts. Move Easter. Postpone it.
Moving the goalposts (as it relates to politics in general) is as American as apple pie. Let’s take that lead. Postponing the “celebration” of Easter is a relatively painless idea that thwarts a potentially horrible outcome. If you are behind this movement, then have your voices heard. Post, tweet, text, email, call, or even write a note to the Pope and/or your favorite religious and political leaders. #PostponeEaster, #MoveEaster, #MoveTheGoalPosts. Let’s just postpone Easter until we can ALL celebrate. Quite honestly, I’ve done a poor job honoring what I supposedly “gave up” for Lent. Diet, exercise, service-all thrown out the window as I have tried to do “my part” and stay at home. I’m not quite ready for Easter. I need a “do-over” on Lent.
The first, the most apparent reason to postpone celebrating, is that it would be clearly beneficial to the health and safety of everyone involved. It upholds the “Golden Rule.” For those religious organizations that are planning on not reducing onsite services and are rolling the dice by still planning to hold these events, remember this. Your older and more susceptible parishioners are the ones with the deep pockets. I’d keep them safe unless you are banking on some large donation or wealth transfer upon their demise. Also, with church attendance already at an all-time low, no need to scare any more folks off. Happy, safe worshipers equal higher tithing. It’s a concept known as lifetime value. Personally, I’d take the cue from professional sports, America’s “second religion.”
The second, way less important, way less impactful, but at least modest positive aspect to postponement is basic economics. For those businesses lucky enough to still be open now, do your part and hide your Easter merchandise to avoid consumer temptation. I’m pretty sure Peeps® aren’t being hoarded, and they have a very long shelf-life. By postponing “retail” Easter, you will benefit from having more sales (pent-up demand) with an improved margin. More customers will return to your stores to purchase their “Sunday best” new Easter outfits, cards, candy, and gifts. Restaurants will also benefit as families head out for their annual brunches.
Consider this. What do you think would have happened if the Covid-19 pandemic would have occurred around our beloved Christmas holiday season? Retail as we know it wouldn’t be able to survive. “Black Friday,” as it relates to shopping, would no longer be referenced as a positive. There would be outcries from every retailer to postpone the celebration of “retail” Christmas. The almighty dollar would attempt to prevail. Postponing the celebration of Easter could be considered a test run. It would be the ultimate disrupting, game-changing, paradigm-shifting, out-of-the-box solution.
Postponing would prove we could all survive being slightly deprived for the greater good. We’ve grown accustomed to time-shifting our entertainment consumption via DVRs and online streaming. Everyone loves a tasty re-run. On Easter morning, we can hold holy this momentous occasion with our families and then celebrate it with our community when the time is right. Perhaps a good idea would be to set a precedent now.
The third and most important reason is that we protected our “brand” Humanity at all costs when we all “leaned in.” Many lost their jobs and helped with the kids who are now at home being “distanced-schooled.” Our brave medical First Responders gambled with their lives. Unfortunately, many will make the ultimate sacrifice. The rest of us did what we were asked to do (stay home), which in reality isn’t a whole lot.
I live in Marin County (near San Francisco). I am truly blessed. As of now, none of my family or close circle of friends has contracted this disease. We’ve suffered a bit economically, but things will bounce back. That’s the least of my worries. Interestingly, rumor has it that the Easter bunny resides here in Marin. Unlike Punxsutawney Phil, the Easter bunny came out from its burrow recently and saw its shadow. Kind of ironic, it did so during the escalation of Covid-19. It’s official. #EasterBunnySawShadow. We should postpone Easter. Maybe we can ask Bill Murray to do a riff on “Groundhog Day” to promote the movement. Let me know if you happen to have his secret 1–800 phone number.
So, you might be asking yourself, “Have I just been gaslighted?” I wish I could tell you with a straight face. Let’s pray that cooler heads will prevail, and we will open back up for “business” when the time is right. Stay safe. Let’s be strong together, and genuinely have something to celebrate that further emphasizes re-birth when the time is right.
P.S. I’m sure Mothers and Fathers will all agree, it’s fine to postpone those “Hallmark holidays” as well if needed, so don’t get any wise ideas. I can wait for my new tie and obligatory greeting card. I reserve the right to deploy #MoveMothersDay and #MoveFathersDay if needed in the future.
Chas Akers (@ChasAkers) is a Husband, Father/Step-Father of 5, and resides in Marin County with his wife Lori and his family. He has a boutique marketing agency, Wherewithal Marketing (wherewithalmarketing.com), that specializes in Direct-to-Consumer marketing. He can also be found on Linkedin. For the record, he’s a fledgling writer, so please take what you want and leave the rest.