Black Friday Marketing and the Creative Process

Black Friday is nuts.  Whether you line up on Thanksgiving with coupons, Red Bull and tasters, or you spend the time with family watching football and playing music, a holiday centered around consumerism is a little crazy.  It is also brilliant in concept.  Like herding sheep, we have a captive consumer base and we show them a green pasture, one or two break through the line, and the rest follow.  Boom, everyone is in the pen, herd mentality takes over, and the spending begins.

The basic idea is sound; convince people they need something, give them limited access to it, make it seem like it is the best deal in the world, get a herd mentality of spending going, grow year after year.  An issue occurs though when the providers get greedy.  First off when Black Friday becomes, Late Thursday, all weekend Saturday, layaway Monday, first week of December… it loses the “limited access” concept that makes consumers see the value of participating “now.”

Secondly, with this becoming such a ridiculous event more and more of the consumer base is being forced to work to provide the services needed to move all of the products… But not just working, being annoyed that they have to work.  Creating an environment that is not happy and cordial, but exhausted, cumbersome and annoyed.

So now Thanksgiving, a time where people hang with family, has the question “Are you going to Black Friday?” hanging around.  Personally the answer is “no, that doesn’t really seem fun, or productive.” Answer “but there are so many good deals.”  “My priorities put Target and Wal Mart’s profits below personal time with family and friends.”

Really these are just some thoughts on consumerism.  It is so strange, and yet being a part of the entertainment and creative industry, it is completely understandable.  Art is about manipulation.  Not in a negative connotation necessarily, it’s about pushing people to think of things differently, or think about something the artist feels or upon which the artist has an opinion.  Sometimes it’s not about a specific direction, but the exposure to an idea or event. Sometimes it’s about making someone feel good, or feel sad, or feel pumped up.  There are often multiple persuasions going on.  A song or picture might mean on thing to a 14 year old and something very different to a 75 year old woman.  But it has meaning – thus it makes someone think, thus it manipulates the consumer of it.

Marketing (in my head) is about combining the underlying concept of manipulation with a designated perspective.  So if Tide hires someone to design their newest add, that team of people is using their creative skills to create a feeling in the consumer that drives buying habits.  Generally marketing doesn’t hire people because of their thoughts, but rather because of their skill set and ability to convert an idea into some sort of physical manifestation.

The massive sales that take place on Black Friday and continue throughout the holiday season exemplify this collaboration.  They bring out the best and worst.  If the marketing scale weighs sales vs. integrity, Black Friday may be piling the herd onto the side of sales.

– Ryan