Black Friday, a day where normal people turn off their frontal lobes, lose their minds and leave their dignity at home. It’s a contact sport where it’s perfectly acceptable for a sweet grandmother sporting brass knuckles to bodycheck you into the frozen aisle for a shot at that monolithic plasma TV. As a spectator, it’s difficult to understand the attraction of the strip mall Running of the Bulls, but for some, it’s a grand tradition. Definitely not my thing, but as the saying goes, “Not my circus. Not my monkeys.” On the flip side, Black Friday undoubtedly creates a powerful sense of urgency, and it can be one of the biggest revenue generators all year for retailers.
Nowadays, Black Friday has become less about a particular day and more of an iconic branded event, which is a smart move to attract people who don’t get super-stoked about suiting up to go shopping. Most of the big box deals, especially electronics, are available the entire month of November, and many brand apps give you the inside scoop on deals without anyone having to notify your next of kin to identify your remains via dental records. But enough about Black Friday, since we’re not writing a blog about Black Friday.
REI once again leads the way by example encouraging us all to opt outside along with a growing list of retailers who have followed suit. What a beautifully simple, double-layered meaning that ladders effortlessly up to the brand. It’s a great sentiment, but let’s be honest, we’re all very likely to get #outthere the very next day and #buysomestuff. But in the meantime, who would want to miss another day to lounge around the house testing the limits of your Stove Top stretchy pants. Nicely played, Stove Top. It’s one of those ideas that creatives envy and has garnered tons of priceless earned media. The idea seems so obvious that you wonder why no one thought of it before. Perhaps the world just wasn’t ready for Stove Top stretchy pants until now. It’s not heartfelt or poetic, but it is the perfect execution for a brand that is synonymous with our national celebration of excess. It makes you smile, even if it’s just a smirk, and that’s a good thing.
Of note regarding #optoutside (after my stretchy pants nonsequitur) is a recent email campaign that I received from Outdoor Research, that is also using #optoutside. I guess you can’t legally own a hashtag, but you’d think if you’re in the same outdoor recreation category, you might want to come up with another line. However, outdoor brands are pretty tight. In fact, it was REI who recently put out the call to rally outdoor brands together to protect our public lands. What’s the point of having a bunch of stuff, if you don’t have a place to enjoy anyway?
One final non-BF thing: I recently discovered this other major holiday shopping day, Green Monday. It has a less daunting ring to it, and yet it is the third largest shopping day of the year. According to thebalance.com the name Green Monday is derived from “green” for revenue (how clever) and the last Monday you could order something online and have it arrive in time for the holidays. Bear in mind this name was coined by eBay before the all-seeing, all-knowing, omnipresent Amazon Prime had taken over the world, but the name has stuck nonetheless. While some will take another dive into the shopping, others use Green Monday as a way of calling attention to environmental issues or charitable organizations. Some buy “green” gifts for people or make a conscious effort to conserve water or energy. Others take their “online shopping” cart total and rather than checking out; they donate that amount to charity.
So, yeah, not doing Black Friday is still a thing, and so is doing Black Friday. It’s cool to remind ourselves that there’s other stuff, besides stuff, if only for a brief moment. But as consumers, we will still shop, and as advertisers, we are still here to help our clients succeed. Anytime we can humanize a brand, make someone laugh or speak a truth in an interesting way, we all win. And that’s why we wrote a blog about not doing Black Friday—which we were more or less successful at doing—probably less.
And for those about to shop, we salute you. Be sure to stretch and carb up on the Thanksgiving mashed potatoes and try to stay away from brass-knuckled grandmas. And if you’re looking for something unique this year that has nothing to do with Friday, but comes in black, consider treating yourself to a ninja suit made out of the darkest manmade material ever. It could come in quite handy during the holidays if you’d like to avoid those painful political conversations with shirttail relatives. (Actually, they don’t have a ninja suit made out of this stuff on the market yet. Or do they?)