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Responsible Marketing

On Black Friday and consumerism

By November 28, 2008July 23rd, 20207 Comments

oys-R-Us Black Friday sale - New York Times

Today is Black Friday.

You might have heard it’s the busiest shopping day of the year. It seldom is. The Saturday before Christmas is typically the busiest shopping day of the year.

You might have also heard Black Friday is named as such because it’s the day that puts retailers in the black. That’s not true either. According to Wikipedia, Black Friday was a term of endearment coined by Philadelphia police officers to describe the “massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores are mobbed from opening to closing.”

Regardless, due to the economic crisis, not every retailer will survive this year so today sales are plentiful and discounts are deep—among the deepest in decades.

Not everyone is excited about Black Friday, though.

The folks at Adbusters are promoting Buy Nothing Day for the 17th straight year. They’re urging all consumers to consider a 24 hour moratorium on consumer spending, to cut up their debit cards, and reconsider their spending habits.

View the “Buy Nothing Day” on YouTube

They aren’t alone. For financial, socio-political, environmental and some would say moral reasons, the anti-consumerist movement is picking up steam.

Check out this video by Bonfire of the Brands author Neil Boorman:

View the “The Good Consumer” on YouTube

Responsible Marketing is what happens when commerce and conscience come together. But as marketers, can we bridge the extreme gap between the orgy of consumption that is Black Friday and an attitude that all consumption is bad?

This is an important question, and I’d love to hear what you think.

If nothing else, will you participate in Black Friday?

Comment below to share.

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. . .
Photo: Allison Joyce for The New York Times

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Deston says:

    It’s a buy nothing day for me. Not because I want to make a statement, but because I sincerely hate shopping mall crowds and traffic jams.

    This year, the nuclear family gets gift certificates and extended family gets a nice card. We all have more than enough crap.

  • Deston says:

    I think this says it all:

    Worker dies at Long Island Wal-Mart after being trampled in Black Friday stampede:

  • So good to see:

    Where Black Friday comes from, and what it does – and doesn’t – mean

    that more and more businesses’ & marketers are getting their role in the change so many of us want – and their position of leadership in the charge to change.

    This is the one day – especially this year – that many are provoked to spend preventatively, unaware that it actually perpetuates the problem.

    Saw a great statement today on Twitter from @SocialMtgExpert “It is a cold, lifeless business when U go 2 the shops 2 buy something, which does not represent your life & talent…”

    Thanks for being one of the best and most balanced voices for conscious marketing/consumerism around.

  • mari says:

    It’s Buy Nothing Day for us. It’s ridiculous. We’ve lost the real meaning of Christmas.

    Now sending a prayer for those who’ve lost their lives to gluttony, selfishness and materialism…

  • Brook Ellingwood says:

    When you tweeted a link to this post, you framed it this way: ‘”Black Friday” or “Buy Nothing Day?” What’s your choice?’

    I’m wondering if “live life as normal day” couldn’t also be an option. It’s what I do with my personal time, even if professionally I do follow Black Friday sales figures with interest.

  • Roxy Cross says:

    Well we haven’t left the house except to harvest fresh herbs for the turkey I’m roasting the day after Thanksgiving. Then gathering holiday decorations to trim the tree friends bring this year, like every year, from their property in Idaho. Surrounded by family and great friends its easier to know where my wealth truly lies and thanks for asking, Patrick!

  • its insane how crazy its getting, and an innocent worker was killed just trying to pull together a few dollars and no one stopped to help him while he lie there and even though the people new a man just died because of them, they continued to shop, whats happening to us?

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