Brands frequently capitalise on public holidays, festivals and other celebrations to push sales –sometimes in ways that run contrary to the spirit of the occasion. International Women’s Day makes for a great case study for this, doubling up as an annual opportunity for retail stores and beauty salons to urge women to ostensibly do what they do best: shop and preen.
This Good Friday, however, some marketing strategies seemed a little too tone deaf. The occasion is a sombre reminder for Christians across the world of the day when Jesus Christ was crucified. But brands and marketing campaign planners seem to have missed the memo.
Leading the pack are the makers of the film 83, Kabir Khan’s ode to India’s 1983 cricket World Cup win that stars Ranveer Singh as former captain Kapil Dev. The film is slated to release on Good Friday 2020, which will fall on April 10.
So naturally, the film’s producers used Good Friday 2019 to set the clock ticking for the film’s release. On Friday, co-producer Reliance Entertaintment posted a tweet urging fans to “crucify doubts and let faith take over” as they wait for 83 to come to theatres next year.
The films official Twitter account posted a more toned-down reminder, staying away from crucifixion puns while still keeping the faith theme alive.
Marks & Spencer, which is headquartered in London and has several stores in India, sent messages to its customers informing them of a mid-season sale. “This Good Friday, shop with your loved ones,” read the message.
Some on social media pointed out that this went against the idea of the holiday. “Shopping and buying usually are associated with celebrations and joyous times; and Good Friday doesn’t actually associate with either,” said one Twitter user.
Others pointed out brands only needed to wait for the Easter Sunday that follows Good Friday, which falls on April 21 this year and marks the resurrection of Christ, to tap into the financial gains of festivity and celebration.
Some brands and companies in other countries also used the occasion to advertise discounts on social media.