Weeknote 24: Black Friday, Advent and “me too” marketing

Screengrab of the Ashmolean Museum website, with an online "Advent calendar". Six windows have been opened and show different winter-themed artworks.

I’ve seen a  lot of “me too” marketing in the last few weeks. First, there’s been the Black Friday sales messages, which everyone claims to find annoying. It would be interesting to see retail figures for this period, now that we’ve got used to/tired of the notion in the UK.

And then there’s been the anti-Black Friday stuff. Doing something different will get you brownie points with your customers, as well as some good PR: I hadn’t heard of Canopy & Stars until one of my friends shared on Twitter that they were closing their website for the day. Now I have. (And yes, I am in the market for what they do.)

Canopy and Stars web page, with the message "Closed for Black Friday".

Kudos, too, for Oxford’s Library of Things which suggested that you could borrow things instead of buying them.

"Borrow don't buy" poster from Oxford's Library of Things.

Another me-too is the online Advent calendar. It’s getting a bit overused now, but it’s a feel-good type of content marketing when done well.  While commercial brands tend to go for the hard sell, it feels more appropriate for non-profit organisations that want to get their message across in a relatable way.

And it works best when it’s quite simple: the Ashmolean Museum shows you something seasonal from their collections every day during Advent.

Church Action on Poverty are doing knitted food and bad puns to get their message across. They made a good start with “peas on earth”.

And Action for Happiness have created an alternative that they call a “Do Good December kindness calendar”.

If you are spiritually inclined, these “Tiny Advent Poems” are rather beautiful. I came across them on Dorchester Abbey’s social media but they are being widely shared.

Picture of a theatre, with a tiny Advent poem: "Advent is the hush in the theatre between the house lights going down and the curtain going up."

As for the least appropriate use of Advent calendars in social media? The ones with competitions? The ones encouraging rampant consumerism? No… this one from NHS North East & Yorkshire that’s all about the winter vomiting bug. I’m not making this up.

PS Advent doesn’t start on “the first day of Christmas”.  That’s 25th December. I’m not usually a pedant, but I am a traditionalist.

Things I’ve learned this week

  • A new word: cryosphere (the parts of the Earth that are frozen water). I came across it while editing this blog post.
  • That the French for “thread” (the Twitter sort) is “thread”. The Oxford-based Reuters Institute has an international remit so they didn’t just publish this information in English. I enjoyed the chance to practise my rusty A-level French.

Twitter post from the Reuters Institute, in French.

In other news

Channel 4 held a climate debate. Possible (the rebranded 10:10 Climate Action) put together some buzzword bingo cards for the occasion. A lot of them were correct (Green New Deal, Nuclear, 2050). They missed out “methane tax” though.

Interestingly, my Twitter ads during the event included Land Rover (possibly an accident) and Shell (probably not one – they were doing their own “Great Energy Debate”).

"Climate debate bingo" card.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Content marketing