Cast your mind back to November 2012 - fresh off the success of hosting the Olympics, London was abuzz with talks of international camaraderie, and the benefits of chatting to strangers.  As winter approached, a strange tale started to emerge from across the pond - the Americans, still digesting their Thanksgiving Turkeys, were heading to their malls and *checks notes* getting into fistfights over cut price TVs 

Hang on: hadn’t they literally just finished a holiday that is entirely about being thankful for what they have?  Since when did this attitude of gratitude transform into a retail shit-show?

Still glowing from our collective-gold-medal-for-hosting-such-a-great-Olympics, us Brits watched our TVs agog - what on earth were we seeing?  Surely this would never happen over here….

Now, a little over a decade later and Black Friday is firmly cemented in the British retail and cultural calendar - sadly, we haven’t taken on the eating of the Turkey or the general expressions of gratitude/time with our loved ones.  In some fit of madness, we decided the best thing about Thanksgiving was the half-price toothbrushes and 70% off air-fryers.

Call me old fashioned, but I long for the days where November wasn’t an overwhelm of “Black Friday starts now” messaging hitting me from the moment we take down the Halloween decorations or dismantle our bonfires.  Surely this month of dimming daylight, rebellious bonfires and reflection on national sacrifice would be better off without the mass consumerism?

Now, if the idea of the planet suffering doesn’t move you, then think of the poor retailers and their margins!  With the price of customer acquisition so high and the market so competitive, retailers surely can’t afford to spend so much of their marketing dollars attracting consumers who may never trade up to a full price customer.  Just look at poor ASOS who had to transform their business by ditching their unprofitable customers.  Imagine having such terrible margins that you are actually having to get rid of customers to stay alive.

Now, back to 2012.  The  London games were all about inspiring the next generation of athletes - perhaps now is when we can start inspiring the next generation of consumers?  We are already seeing a huge increase in secondhand consumption, thanks to the likes of Vinted and Depop.  And big retailers are starting to pay attention too, working with businesses such as Reskinned to sell their secondhand product.  75% of Gen Z claim that sustainability is incredibly important to them.  So if we want to have a business that is around for the next generation, then perhaps it’s time for bold action and start saying no to Black Friday?  As marketers whose jobs are dependent on driving profitability - and indeed, as humans living on this increasingly inhospitable planet -  isn’t that a better deal for everyone?

Bronwen will be writing a column for the MAD//Fest Newsletter regularly throughout the year.