#033 - Black

Jan 27, 2022

Originally Published November 24th, 2021

That magical time of year is upon us yet again. Anxious to reunite with acquaintances from years gone by, we struggle to get much accomplished at work. An extra coffee break here and perhaps a lingering lunch hour there spent preparing for the festivities. But these small failures go unnoticed. Who could be blamed for being overwhelmed by the spirit of holidays? By midweek, the car is packed. Hat, gloves, thermos of hot chocolate, pumpkin pie flavored ChapStick, sleeping bag, battle axe, sharpened elbows, and a family pack of mace. Everyone is ready. It’s almost Black Friday!

Spain has made quick work of the Black Friday phenomenon. About five years ago, hardly anyone here had any idea what it was. Those who did know had learned of this sacred event from YouTube. Viral videos of patient patrons kindly taking turns to bask in the glow of freshly cut MSRPs. Spontaneous hugs and high fives, camaraderie and community. The man hath bestowed upon us a generous discount and we shall rejoice in our fortunate bounty.

OK, perhaps those weren’t the videos. It was more like midnight WWE (though WWF forever in my heart) in a Walmart. Trampling and tug-of-war over that last inexplicably got- to-own waffle maker.

Despite their distinct lack of propriety, these videos were a powerful message to retailers in Europe. The public does seem to engage with deep discounts. Let’s give it a shot.

One step may have been missed in this discovery: the reason for the season. For starters, some of them didn’t manage to look up “Friday” in their American to European dictionaries. Suddenly there were “Black Friday Week” sales. This devolved into “Black Week” and then fell completely into the upside-down with “Black Days” sales.

One local business here deserves its own paragraph. Gleefully unaware of the Black Friday origin story, they have leaned so far into the hype and slathered on so much urgency

that their marketing blast on November 19th read: “Don’t Miss Out! Final Black Days Discounts!” Their sale ended before Thanksgiving.

Without Turkey Day, it is understandable that Black Friday has now expanded like a gas to fill the vacuum between Halloween and Christmas. Our inbox and browser banner ads fire a constant drumbeat of “Black” sales from the moment we pack away the jack-o- lanterns until well after our stockings have made their appearance.

Honestly, Europe might be ahead of the curve on this. Perhaps this is the most honest and pure form of the Black Friday concept. “Just please buy things, as much as you can, from now until the end of the year. Please. Do it.”

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