Nov 28, 2011

Is Black Friday Becoming Too Sinister of a Marketing Holiday?

Geile/Leon General
Geile/Leon

Waking up at the crack of dawn after Thanksgiving to save on a new flatscreen has become almost as much a holiday tradition as a plateful of turkey and mashed potatoes. And this past Black Friday was one of the most aggressive in marketing history. Stores even began opening their doors on “Black Eve,” meaning stores opened at midnight on the night of Thanksgiving. Now we have to ask ourselves…is this crossing the line? Is it asking too much to have salespeople come in for shift on Thanksgiving and work through the night so the Black Friday shoppers can get a head start on camping out for sales?

Noted Ad Age blogger, Clyde McKendrick commented on the craze, “Indeed many of the traditions we hold dear as institutions in our holiday season have been basic marketing ploys to drive sales. Some of our traditions with the highest cultural capital, such as Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, are no more than events designed to draw shoppers out of their homes.”

Now don’t get me wrong, as a member of the St. Louis marketing community, I realize there is reason behind the madness. If people are willing to give up their Thanksgiving for a door buster, then why not accommodate? Merchandisers are looking to boost sales anyway possible around this time of year, and opening at midnight gives them about four more early hours of high volume, stampeding traffic, rip-it-out-of-your-hands, mom-to-mom combat sales.

Acknowledging that I think it’s absurd to compromise the Thanksgivings of innocent teens working the night shift at Toys R’ Us, I do want to mention that I’ve seen some of the best Black Friday advertising ever this year. The Target campaign is recycled from last year, but still hilarious because everyone knows that semi-psycho holiday shopper. Walmart combated with a similar, but less funny series, mocking the over zealous Black Friday Shoppers. Best Buy took a reverse route, using a cynic-turned-believer approach to Black Holiday discount.

As a lover of clothes, sales and all things advertising, I embrace Black Friday, but I will not be setting up my tent in front of any mall at midnight in lieu of a huge plate of turkey and long day of family. I guess you could say this year, I’m thankful for Cyber Monday.