When online marketplace Daraz and Kaymu -- both subsidiaries of German parent company Rocket Internet -- decided to launch the Black Friday phenomenon in Pakistan, they probably did not expect competition in the form of ‘White Friday’.
Home Shopping, another online vendor, jumped on the bandwagon, and differentiated their offer by calling it ‘White Friday’.
“Because in Pakistan, Friday is never black,” Home Shopping’s White Friday page reads. The vendor has also set up a Facebook event page that invokes Friday’s religious significance in Islam.
“In the Muslim world, Friday is the day of prayer, the day of gathering, the day off, the family day, the day of joy, so surely ... our Friday is WHITE!” the event description reads towards the end.
Some commented on the page accusing the company of using religious sentiment to promote business. “Well you want to compete with Daraz.pk come up with better deals not the lame lines ‘White Friday’” one user commented. “#GrowUp and don't involve religion into your pecuniary lust. #PoorMarketing.”
While the company’s marketing leaves a lot to be desired, owner Shayan Tahir is quite straightforward. “We wanted to do something different,” he says of the promotion, adding that the intention was to do something 'unique' and 'fresh', not to use religion.
“The promotion is on the same day as it is elsewhere,” Tahir adds, but since a 'black' day in our culture is reserved for tragic events, he says, it didn’t make sense to call it that.
That raises the question, why call it Black Friday when launching a promotional offer in Pakistan?
Daraz Head of Communications Saman Javed says Black Friday has become a global phenomenon. "Why should Pakistan not be part of such an incredible global trend?" she asks. "When it comes to sales and discounts, we're no different, we are true bargain hunters."
"It's flattering to see others follow our footsteps," she says of Home Shopping's White Friday sale, adding that the magnitude of Daraz's sale "is alarming for other companies and has convinced them that they are in serious trouble if they don't follow suit."