During a year that the coronavirus changed people's lives, people are spending money on Lysol and Clorox. Cards Against Humanity waived its annual Black Friday stunt amid the pandemic and protests against the police killing black Americans.
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For cards against humanity, 2020 was no laughing matter.
The makers of the popular card game that seeks to find the most inappropriate and macabre answers to questions about laughing have decided to forego their annual Black Friday stunt at the end of a year that COVID-19 changed lives in the US and around the world.
Over the past few years, the card game maker has mocked its passion for Black Friday and Cyber Monday through absurd promotions. In 2014, the company sold “literal droppings from a real cop” – and around 30,000 people ordered, with the proceeds going to the Heifer International charity. Two years ago, the company sold everything from a car to a Picasso lithograph for less than $ 100.
But this year – against the backdrop of a pandemic that killed over 264,000 people in the U.S. and a global reckoning of systemic racism – the company decided now was not the time for its usual fun and games.
"Today is Black Friday, cards against mankind's favorite holiday," it says on the company's website. "Usually we do a big, loud stunt to make a statement about consumer capitalism."
Instead, the Chicago-based company donated the $ 250,000 earmarked for its Black Friday promotion to five charities selected by the company's employees: Equal Justice Initiative, the New Georgia Project, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, the Brave Space Alliance, and the Laughing At My Nightmare COVID-19 Relief Fund.
"These organizations fight for causes that matter to us – we believe that Black Lives Matter, voting rights are human rights and that no one should go hungry or become homeless," the company said with a call to visitors to the website, "Ready to US 5 US – To pay dollars to fill the Chicago River with spaghetti or whatever "to instead donate your money to one of these organizations via the links provided.
Earning goodwill can be a profitable, profitable strategy for retailers. Studies have shown that people are willing to spend more money on products when the company has a reputation that is in line with their own values.
“Today consumers want more from brands, and brands are increasing their communication. If it's authentic action, as opposed to an advertising campaign, it will earn customers respect and trust, ”said Tracy Williams, CEO of Los Angeles-based public relations firm Olmstead Williams Communications. She believes many of Cards Against Humanity's customers will appreciate the company's Black Friday gesture, she said.
Of course, Cards Against Humanity is far from being the first to speak out about the problems our society is facing this year. Amid protests against the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd earlier this year, many companies issued statements in support of anti-racist efforts and the Black Lives Matter movement.
However, experts and activists have warned that if a company fails to back up such statements with real action, it could backfire on customers. "Measuring your stakeholders' expectations sometimes leads you to societal problems," J. Walker Smith, Kantar's chief knowledge officer, Branding and Marketing, told MarketWatch earlier this year.
Cards Against Humanity were self billed earlier this year with that in mind. In June, the gaming news website Polygon published reports from former employees alleging the company's work environment and culture were racist and sexist. Because of the allegations, one of the company's co-founders, Max Temkin, resigned, although he remains a shareholder.
“We are committed to rebuilding a workplace that partners and employees can be proud of. It is our responsibility to see this through, ”the company's remaining co-founders said in a statement posted on the Cards Against Humanity website.
(Cards Against Humanity did not immediately return a request for comment.)
In this regard, some viewed Cards Against Humanity's Black Friday statement as a win-win situation. “It was a low risk, medium reward decision for the controversial brand that faced allegations of racism, sexism and a toxic work environment,” said Brian Hart, founder and president of Philadelphia-based public relations agency Flackable. "Cards Against Humanity was uniquely positioned to turn an announcement like this into a PR win and gain relevance again this holiday season."
Tonya Garcia contributed to this story.