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An illusion of black and green?

(DISCLAIMER: This is a satirical / highly exaggerated reflection and does not specifically represent any brand or retailer. We do not consider the wider ‘Green Friday’ movement to be detrimental if done with an authentic drive to prevent over-consumption and facilitate environmental protection.)

A fog has formed over capitalism. Black Friday is dying. Brands and retailers are now struggling to justify rock bottom prices to consumers so conscious of the environmental and social impact of these products. ‘The Conundrum’ is plaguing Chief Exec’s everywhere: how can we sell more of our stuff and make money while also retaining the image of being environmentally conscious? Capitalism needs a hero.

“LIGHTBULB!” yells Gary in the marketing department of Brand Z, “I’ve got it!”. His colleagues awake from their slumbers to turn and look at him, bemused. They are dead behind the eyes after so many all-night shifts trying to solve ‘The Conundrum’.

“So here is what we do” he continues “we set up a campaign showing how opposed we are to Black Friday because of the environmental impacts of fast fashion blablabla. This will highlight our ‘eco’ credentials”. Interest has piqued in the room, the bemused looks from Gary’s colleagues have turned to wide-eyed stares of fascination. He’s on to something here, they collectively think.

Gary explains further “…then, when we’ve laid that, you know, eco/sustainable foundation, we run an anti Black Friday event – lets just call it ‘Green Friday’ - where we pledge to plant a tree or something like that.”

“BUT…” Gary’s voice raising with anticipation now to deliver the kicker of his idea “… on Green Friday we still run a sale flogging our products at a discounted price to ensure we maximise revenues and earn a whole heap of dinero."

Chief Exec enters stage left and hearing the deadly silence in the room, demands an explanation. Tentatively, Gary relays his masterplan: his solution to ‘The Conundrum’. Chief Exec pauses for what seems like an eternity as he digests the potential solution, the room waits with collective baited breath.

Slowly, Chief Exec begins to bow and buckle before Gary. “My god, he’s got it, he’s solved ‘The Conundrum’, I didn’t think this day would come” Chief Exec mutters, more to himself than everyone else.

Chief Exec turns now to address the room “Everyone, listen here, do you know what this means?! It means consumers will think we are ‘sustainable’ (let’s make sure we write that at least 15 times in our marketing campaign Gary) and all the while we will be able to sell more of our stuff and finally pay out that big fat dividends we’ve been waiting on!”

The collective breath hold is released and the rest of the marketing department rush over to Gary and begin to lift him into the air chanting wild praise at his genius. Fireworks from an unknown location are let off and erupt outside the window.

“Hold on, hold on, wait a minute, that doesn’t seem right?!” comes a voice from the corner of the room barely rising above the jubilant celebrations. It is Jane, the notorious tree-hugger of the office (here we go… snore) “This is a trick! We are not being ‘eco’ or ‘sustainable’ at all, we are just pretending to be so we can ultimately sell more stuff. Doesn’t this contradict the whole ‘sustainable’ image we have promoted and actually do more environmental harm than good? You do know that the production of textiles is one of the biggest global polluters and we already have enough items to clothe the next 6 generations right? Do we really need to use these underhand tactics to flog more of our stuff that people don’t really need?”

Chief Exec turns slowly, knuckles white around the string of his un-popped party popper. The room is deadly silent once again as Chief Exec looks Jane directly in the eye. He sighs and mutters “some people just have to ruin all the fun..” disregarding Jane entirely. He turns swiftly back to Gary, who is still being held aloft by his now somewhat fatigued colleagues, and softly says “don’t let Jane over there ruin YOUR moment Gary”.

Jane shrinks back to the corner, deflated but wary not to make any more of a disturbance (she needs this job you see..) and the celebrations reconvene as if Jane’s silly faux par never happened.

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