Forget Black Friday & Cyber Monday; Get Down with #GivingTuesday

Lisen Syp

According to theblackfriday.com, a website devoted to annual black Friday predictions, trendspotting, and store-housing popular deals, this year will again include frenzied shoppers pushing back from their Thanksgiving meals and rushing out to take advantage of 6pm, 11pm, and midnight deals. All of this before “Black Friday” itself.

As we’ve seen for a few years now, Black Friday, and its online partner Cyber Monday, have become a selling concept, rather than just individual days; I was at Old Navy today, November 19, and a store associate recommended I visit again on Saturday (the 22nd) for a 50% off day everything sale…and that’s a full week before the “real” Black Friday.

From a PR perspective, Black Friday is old news and strategic marketers will avoid being lumped into the melee of free TVs, department store stampedes and glassy eyed parents fighting for this year’s prize. Many marketers (and consumers) have grown weary of the hyper-consumerism that dictates the month of December, and a refreshing idea that has gained significant traction is "#GivingTuesday," a movement designed by HAVAS PR clients the United Nations Foundation and the 92nd Street Y two years ago that has created a national day of giving that kicks off the giving season after Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

According to the HAVAS Web site, the movement is exploding—last year more than 2,500 partners (a mix of corporations and nonprofits of all sizes, from Unilever to the Tacoma Art Museum) were involved worldwide; this year it’s already over 8,300.

Like any good idea, the premise is quite simple: #GivingTuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

Getting involved in the #GivingTuesday movement can take many forms, and it’s a valuable idea to consider. Some organizations have long-established cause partnerships, like Yoplait and the Save Lids to Save Lives program benefiting breast cancer research, or Toms and its dedication to providing shoes for kids who need them, so in those cases a #GivingTuesday campaign can easily be implemented and makes a lot of sense. That said, the beauty of #GivingTuesday is that it’s really about viral philanthropy, and it’s a concept that any organization, or person, can adopt. A start up, without any budget for charitable funding can donate hours in its area of expertise, and share that activity via social media using the #GivingTuesday hashtag. A neighborhood organization can implement a day of wish fulfillment for local neighbors in need, and leverage a #GivingTuesday #unselfie day for local teenagers. A chef can spend the day making a festive dinner for the residents of an area nursing home. The possibilities are endless, and the outcome is magnificent- thousands of people doing good on December 2, and spreading the true meaning of “good cheer” socially.

As marketers, we know that we are only successful when our brand stands for something important, and certainly, the majority of the time that’s generally the products we create and the customer experience behind those products. That said, consumers want to know their loyalty lies with the right brand, and the simple act of doing a little selfless good and humbly sharing that act goes a long way.

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