Yes, it’s that time of year, again.
It’s the day after Thanksgiving where retailers throughout the U.S. offer amazing deals, opening their doors early in the morning so bargain-hunters can get a jump on their holiday shopping.
Aside from the fact that retailers have started to give these amazing deals the week before Thanksgiving and are starting their “Black Friday” sales on Thanksgiving night, Black Friday was originally not a good thing for the economy.
“Black Friday” Bad News Blues
In fact, it all started in 1869. Friday, September 24, 1869, to be precise.
Two speculators, Jay Gould and James Fisk, tried to corner the gold market on the New York Gold Exchange. When the federal government saw that the price of gold was starting to soar, they sold $4 million in gold. On September 20, 1869, Gould and Fisk started hoarding gold, driving the price higher.
When the government gold hit the market, the price took a nosedive in minutes. Investors scrambled to sell their holdings but it was too late. Many fortunes were ruined. And so, that particular Friday was nicknamed, “Black Friday.”
A Successful Re-branding Effort
Fast forward to 1966. A dealer in rare stamps, Earl Apfelbaum, decided that he wanted to re-brand “Black Friday.”
In a column, he said:
“‘Black Friday’ is the name that the Philadelphia Police Department gave to the Friday following Thanksgiving Day. It is not a term of endearment to them. ‘Black Friday’ officially opens the Christmas shopping season in center city, and it usually brings massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores are mobbed from opening to closing.”
Because retailers didn’t want the history of “Black Fridays” and “Black Mondays” to be associated with what they saw as a profitable day, they decided to “newsjack” the term and turn it around for their benefit.
They used the name to reflect opportunity for the bargain-hunter and the idea that a store was “in the black” financially to be able to afford such generous discounts.
A very successful ploy turned something negative into a positive.
It’s all about positioning.
What About Your Brand?
While most are focused on grabbing a great deal today, you might give your own brand some thought.
Are there any negative connotations with the brand name? Is there a way you can “newsjack” a negative impression and turn it around?
In 2009, Domino’s successfully faced the hate for their own brand and turned it around. When they focused on how much people really disliked their pizza, they admitted that at first, it hurt. Many people in the home office had dedicated many hours toward delivering pizza fast as well as a tasty pizza.
But focus groups told a different story.
So Domino’s decided to embrace the hate instead of running from it and using it to motivate them to make a better pizza.
I recently had a Domino’s pizza and was pleasantly surprised. Gone was the bland, cardboard-like taste I remembered from my college days. And now they offer a gluten-free crust.
I applaud Domino’s for listening to their customers and then doing something about it. That’s not easy for a large brand like them. But they did it and it surprised the heck out of most people.
Let it motivate you. And since you already ate enough turkey yesterday, maybe pizza is exactly what you need to order in tonight, as you munch their new concoctions and ponder the power of re-branding.