I watched the news on Friday and I was shocked. Not by a terrorist attack or some horrible sexual abuse scandal. No, it was Black Friday, the American post-thanksgiving sales that have now apparently also been imported to the UK.
The visuals compared excellently to the wildebeest stampede scene in The Lion King. Herd-behaviour at it’s worst. Except in this case Mufasa wasn’t trampled, but a few people did get arrested and at least one person broke their wrist.
Sacrifices made in the great fight for a discounted television.
This quote from a shopper cited in an article in The Guardian sums the madness up perfectly “I got a Dyson but I don’t even know if I want it. I just picked it up.”
It appears that enough marketing will makes us behave like animals buying things that we don’t need and might not even want. Are we that easy to fool, or are we simply eager to be lured in?
Is this kind of consumerism on steroids now an inherent part of the holiday season? I hope not.
I have a similar issue with Christmas adverts. Not with the adverts themselves. Adverts are what they are and the Christmas editions are in many cases high budget pieces of work that are slightly more entertaining to watch than the average.
What I do find very curious is the fact that for the past few weeks my Twitter feed has been overflowing with Tweets bursting with excitement about the Christmas ads finally being here, most of them mentioning #MontyThePenguin (for all you non-UK readers, this is what I’m talking about).
It’s as if a new hit series has just come out and everyone is talking about it, or a big pop star has released a new album and everyone feels the need to vent their opinions in 140 characters.
Except aren’t the adverts supposed to be the by-product of the content you actually want to consume? Yes, Monty the Penguin is cute, but after the 25th time of watching him do his thing, his charm starts to wear off. Adverts are also a form of creativity of course, but their main goal still is to sell you things, not to entertain.
That’s why I think as the smart consumers we are, or at least have the potential to be, it’s a good idea to look at advertisements with a slight hint of critical thinking in the background. Yes, even for the cute ones. The same thing goes for discounts, no matter how insane they are. There are always two questions to be asked. Do I need this? If the answer to this is no, the next one, Do I really want this, should be answered with a wholehearted yes.
If not, you might get home with a dress that doesn’t really suit you, but you think you’ll be able to make work because you saved SO much money. (I have been very guilty of this, dear reader). Or worse, with a Dyson, a Dyson that you didn’t even really want.
Let’s not be stupid consumers.