The nostalgia of the twelve days of Christmas seems to have been replaced by the stampede of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Many of us will have viewed the footage of shoppers scrambling to get their hands on merchandise with big brand retailers John Lewis, Currys PC World, Argos and Tesco experiencing astonishing demand (John Lewis announced that traffic to their website was up 307% compared with Black Friday last year).
There was also strong demand from shoppers in stores with some caught up in the chaos and frenzy of promotions.  But as the traffic jams were resolved and shops started to quieten down, some analysts cast doubt on the value of Black Friday promotions. 
I was surprised to learn that Black Friday started in the 1940’s, possibly coinciding with the opening of big department stores and discounters in the US. I don’t recall similar news reports highlighting this heightened behaviour before now – is it simply a sign of our times? 
It is difficult to have a single view of the results as reported; in the USA there was great disappointment about an 11% reduction in sales versus last year, whilst Amazon reportedly had their best sales day ever. Websites of several big retailers crashed under pressure, and the police were called in to help beleaguered staff in stores who failed to match demand with resources.  Given that organisations have years and years of tracking behaviour and managing demand, why then have some allowed their brands to be tarnished? With the frenetic impact of Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) many customer enquiries were undoubtedly ‘lost’ in the upsurge in contact.
Black Friday may in fact act as a wake up call and stark reminder of the need to be aligned with consumers and to maintain the integrity of the brand. Ultimately, organisations need to weigh up the benefits of short-term increased sales and the potential to build buzz and excitement against the costs of potentially delivering poor service and the brand damage implications of that. 
‘Raising the bar’ is a theme we explored at the CCA Convention last week and will shape our programme for 2015.  We will help organisations focus and keep sight of the latest requirements, by researching and presenting the latest innovations from our network, across all sectors.
Last weeks Convention reminded delegates that raising the bar is not an option, but an imperative. As consumers we are now hard wired to austerity and expect best value as a given with convenience included; no longer an optional extra. Strategies must include robust measures to deal with spikes through call centres, online and in the stores in a blended and seamless fashion.  There is little point in inviting guests to the party if there is no catering.  (Click here for our social media round up of the 2 day event and Awards dinner). 
There were many wise words spoken last week. Ben Page, Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI concluded that the future success for major brands will depend on two things: authenticity and simplicity. Our delegates appreciated this face to face wisdom shared by respected and experienced professionals.
So, after the recent madness should we make a call for a “Wise Wednesday”?
Click here to see the winners of CCA Excellence Awards 2014