The annual game of Black Friday ad leaks begins

Thursday, November 8th, 2012 By

Black Friday ads

Black Friday ads are leaking to deal sites. But are retailers really upset? Image: Hotcouponcorld.com/Flickr/CC BY-SA

Many retailers are complaining that their Black Friday ads are being leaked to on-line deal sites. Others believe, however, that some so-called “leaks” originate from the retailers themselves — giving consumers a tantalizing whiff to get them salivating.

The madness of Black Friday

We are a crazy, consumer driven society. Nothing illustrates this madness more vividly than day after Thanksgiving, ie., the annual ritual called Black Friday. This one day of the year, when consumers are whipped into a mob of shopping frenzy, is of paramount importance to retailers. They count on it for making a killing as the year winds down.

They are all busily drawing their plans to lure in the mobs.

More than 30 ad leaks

As of Election Day, the holiday ads for more than 30 large retailers had been “leaked” to online deal sites, such as BFAds.net, BradsDeals.com, FatWallet.com and GottaDeal.com. Some of those retailers include Bed Bath & Beyond, Cabela’s, Family Dollar, Kmart, Michael’s, RadioShack, Rite Aid, Sam’s Club, Sports Authority and Staples.

Trials of Macy’s

The department store chain Macy’s put out a news release on Monday, revealing 15 bargains it will offer on Black Friday. That very same day, the retailer’s 52-page Thanksgiving ad circular was posted by BFAds.net. FatWallet.com waited a day and published the circular on Election Day.

Macy’s spokesman Jim Sluzewski said Tuesday that the move was done without its consent:

“We have not authorized any release of information at this point beyond what was included in yesterday’s news release.”

Macy’s has more than 850 brick-and-mortar outlets nationwide.

Legal Ace

Last week, after running a “leaked” ad for Ace Hardware’s Black Friday bargains, BradsDeals.com received a “cease and desist” letter from the retailer’s lawyers. Later, says Brad Wilson, the deal site’s founder, Ace sent him an “approved” ad that was identical to the one that was supposedly “leaked.”

Wilson said:

“They were likely either trying to manage the timing of the release, or someone higher up realized how dumb it was to get in the way of free advertising and righted their lawyer’s wrong.”

Michael Brim, founder of BFAds.net, agreed:

“I think retailers are finally starting to realize the advertising and promotional benefit of having their Black Friday ads out early.”

Source of the leaks

Some of these leaks are truly that. Often, the deal sites receive ad copy that is poorly reproduced. These, say Wilson, are likely cell phone pictures taken by employees in print shops. Other times, they are professional quality print ads sent by e-mail. Those, according to Wilson, are likely coming from the retailers themselves.

Brent Shelton, spokesman for FatWallet.com, said:

“If the ad stays up for more than a few hours, it’s most likely implicit that the retailer is fine with it being public.”

Sources

Examiner
WPTV
Detroit Free Press

 

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