Brand Fridays: The Best & Worst of Black Friday
Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and the retail holiday responsible for generating:
- $1.5 billion dollars digitally (2014)
- 349 million Google results (2015)
- a total of 105 injuries and deaths
It’s been touted as the biggest shopping day in America, yet there is no formal organization that actively brands or advertises for Black Friday. It goes to show that branding lies in the hands of the consumer and will naturally arise, regardless of whether it was meant to or not.
Today, we’re going to analyze the history behind the branding of Black Friday itself.
- The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade debuts to a joyous crowd of over 250,000 in New York City. This begins a tradition that unofficially kicks off the commercial holiday shopping season in America.
- Harvard historian Nancy Koehn says factory managers start calling the day after Thanksgiving “Black Friday” because so many workers would call in sick for it.
- The Philadelphia Police Department starts to refer to the day after Thanksgiving as “Black Friday“ because of the massive crowds that pour into the city and cause massive headaches for the department. The Philly PD chose to call the day “Black Friday” in hopes to make it a distasteful term and discourage participation.
- The first “Cyber Monday” happens, thanks to the marketing team at Shop.org (a division of the National Retail Federation).
- The first recorded Black Friday-related death happens this year. Jdimytai Damour, a seasonal Wal-Mart worker, gets trampled to death by a crowd hungry for $400 big-screen TVs and $2 DVDs. There’s immediate backlash.
- The site, BlackFridayDeathCount.com, is born. Its creator states, “[It’s] not really intended to be a strong political message, or make any conclusions about the data, just be thought provoking.“
- The American Express corporation launches the first “Small Business Saturday” on November 27th, 2010. This day encourages people to buy from small businesses in their area. Today, it is the most successful campaign to push consumers to shop local.
- Wal-Mart becomes the first retailer to start Black Friday on the night before, aka Thanksgiving.
- Patagonia launches one of the first Anti-Black Friday campaigns, “Don’t Buy This Jacket” in the New York Times and online.
- Patagonia launches the anti-consumerism campaign, “Worn Wear.” It is “an antidote to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping frenzy… an invitation to celebrate the stuff you already own.” There’s also a nostalgic short film to kick start the campaign, “Worn Wear: A Film About the Stories We Wear.”
- An untrue story which links Black Friday with slavery origins circulates around the web. Snopes.com goes on to debunk the story.
- Cards Against Humanity takes all their products offline on Black Friday. Except for a literal box of um, excrement. Which 30,000 people actually buy at $6 a box.
- A Thought Catalog article, “9 Facts About Retail Workers You Should Know Before You Shop On Black Friday,” gets shared over 229.7 thousand times.
- REI opts to close all their 143 stores on Black Friday and pay its employees to #OptOutside. There’s even a microsite for consumers to pledge to #OptOutside.
With three weeks left until Black Friday 2015, it remains to be seen how the branding of Black Friday will continue to evolve. Let us know in the comments or on social if there are other important Black Friday branding moments!