Black Friday: Hit or Miss?

Each year, it seems that Black Friday is slowly overshadowing the actual holiday (Thanksgiving) of this holiday weekend. In fact, it’s downright ironic that we spend one day focusing on gratitude and the next three days focused on the frenzied acquisition of more stuff.

There are certainly fun aspects to it – I know a lot of people who love the tradition of waking up early with their sister or mother to pick up Christmas presents at a great price. We all love the thrill of a good bargain, right?

But I’ve also seen many downsides to the Black Friday weekend. The last time I went shopping on Black Friday was about 4 years ago, to get some DVDs at $1.99. It took half an hour just to get my hands on them, while pushing through a massive crowd, and then I had to wait in line for 45 minutes. I realized I would rather have paid full price than deal with the long lines and pushy crowds.

This year, I’ve been especially annoyed by the commercials that have debuted recently. The AT&T 4G LTE commercial (and others like it) make me crazy. Our tech toys are rapidly developing – Smart Phones, tablets, readers. Hell, even I am thinking of getting a Kindle Fire someday. Maybe. But each year, there’s a new generation of tech toys, and they are growing exponentially. I can only imagine the kind of e-waste they are creating when people chuck their old phones and tablets for the newest version. And everything has to be smarter, better, faster. “That’s so 27 seconds ago.” Do we really need to promote the idea that satisfaction can only be gained through instant gratification?

And how about the winner of Five Seed’s Most Offensive Holiday Commercial? Best Buy! Have you seen their “Game on, Santa” commercial yet? Yep, that’s the one I hate most of all. A woman goes into Best Buy and is surprised by all the items the store is offering for $100 or less. The saleswoman jokingly says, “Santa better watch out, huh?” The shopper gets a competitive gleam in her eye and the commercial cuts to Christmas Eve at her house, when Santa arrives carrying a cute little wooden toy. He goes to put it into a stocking, and finds that the stockings are already full of items from Best Buy. He turns to find the shopper standing behind him, who says, very snarkily, “Awww…guess I didn’t leave any room for you. It’s awkward. Maybe you could fill his [stocking].” Then she points to the family dog who has an empty stocking in his mouth. Then the words, “Game on, Santa” flash on the screen.

Sure, in a way, it’s a really cute campaign. Or maybe just clever. But I also find it really annoying and as I said before, offensive. Why? Santa comes to the house holding a simple wooden toy, and the message seems to be that such a toy is a useless, unwanted trinket. No, get your kids a tablet, instead! Santa’s handmade (elf-made) toys are made to look like a joke compared to our tech toys. Not good enough for the kids, so give it to the dog!

According to Advertising Age, “The intent of ‘Game On, Santa’ is to allow moms to revel in their role as ‘chief gift giver.’ Mr. Panayiotou said that his team’s research found that Mom really wanted to feel like she was ‘winning’ the holidays, though she didn’t necessarily need to take credit publicly. The spots show women talking about various gadgets with Best Buy employees, before flash-forwarding to Christmas Eve, where Mom celebrates her purchases amid Santa’s arrival and razzes the big guy.” Personally, I find this “competitive Christmas” idea to be a bit strange, and I feel that Best Buy is twisting the whole “Mom-Christmas-presents” dynamic. Now I’m not a mother, but don’t moms (like the rest of us) buy gifts in order to express love to their children/family members? It’s not about the gifts, themselves, but the emotion behind them. According to Best Buy, though, it’s about the “stuff,” the victory, the win. Hmmmm.

And the worst part of all is this is the inevitable violence that seems to erupt in at least one store during the shopping madness. This year, the big stories were the pepper spray incident in California and the allegedly shoplifting grandpa in Arizona who ended up with a shattered face after an altercation with the police.

Is it really worth it?