Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

The curious case of 'Black Friday' in Pakistan

Updated Nov 17, 2017 11:29am
How some Pakistani online retailers introduced 'White Friday' sales because in Pakistan 'Friday is never black.’

Who doesn’t like a free lunch? Buy one get two, 50% off, limited time only… These buzzwords are imprinted on our brains, instantly activated when needed. However, there was a time when such delights were rare as precious jewels, prompting the sort of mass hysteria normally associated with a raging plague. The mere mention of a discount or a sale would elicit feverish frenzies among women, kids and men (feel free to imagine our ancestors as excitable chipmunks skipping from store to store, arms laden with unnecessary goodies).

These days indifference reigns in the retail sector. Sales? We have had bonanzas, weird tie-ins (if I buy ‘chicken’ from KFC I may win a motorbike?!), offers too good to be true (spend 10 bucks to get 1,000,000 seconds). People are simply no longer attracted by the kind promotions that in the past drew huge crowds. So time to be creative.

If you are a fan of most things American, you may be aware of a phenomenon called Black Friday. Simply put, it occurs around Thanksgiving, and it is basically an excuse to go broke with massive sales everywhere. The concept isn’t just American any longer; many other countries have adopted it.

Given that Black Friday has become both an established day and brand by garnering a fantastic response around the world, in today’s connected world where customs are far more fluid than before, it makes sense to introduce it to Pakistan. This is exactly what Daraz.pk and a few other enterprising brands decided to do. They announced massive sales over this period, expecting a positive response.

Naïve souls! Since when is anything straightforward here? Cue the outpouring of nationalistic/religious/jingoistic rage. How dare anyone besmirch that holiest of days by referring to it as ‘black’? Why are these immoral traitors introducing Western ideas in our pure land? (one can always rely on using the word ‘Western’ as an epithet to pull in a crowd).

And so it was that Homeshopping.pk launched White Friday, which is literally the exact same promotion as Daraz’s Black Friday, but with a colour change. After all, ‘in Pakistan Friday is never black.’ Who would dare refute this?

I don’t know whether this change in colour is going to make any difference to how the public responds. Presumably people are sane enough to just take advantage of solid discounts instead of fretting about such irrelevance?

I am keen to see what transpires next year. Will we have Green Fridays galore? I certainly would not be surprised given that green is a constant get-out-of-jail-free card and good for any occasion.

(First published in November 2015).