Friday, December 05, 2008

Marketing blamed for Black Friday tragedy

A lawsuit filed by relatives of the Walmart worker killed by stampeding shoppers on the day after Thanksgiving says that marketing hype is partly to blame:
A complaint filed today in New York State Supreme Court in the Bronx on behalf of survivors of the fallen worker, Jdimytai Damour, claims that besides failing to provide adequate security, Wal-Mart "engaged in specific marketing and advertising techniques to specifically attract a large crowd and create an environment of frenzy and mayhem," according to published reports.
The local police chief similarly blamed Walmart and their marketing:
"When you advertise products, and you market it heavily, and it garners public interest, and it's great bargains with limited quantities of merchandise, and you have a crowd that can grow beyond the quantity available, it is a recipe for disaster," Mr. Mulvey said.

He also said Wal-Mart didn't appear to have enough security to handle the crowds and that police had told retailers in the county two weeks earlier that security and crowd control were their responsibility.
I'm seldom inclined to say that anyone is responsible for anyone else's actions. The members of the crowd who couldn't control their lust for bargains are the ones responsible, and if they can be identified they should be prosecuted. But Walmart (and many other retailers) have unquestionably gone overboard with Black Friday hype, and maybe this tragedy will restore some sense of proportion, among both retailers and shoppers.

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