Should You Be Able To Opt Out Of Some Family Days?

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Fathers Day display
Fathers Day display

Many major corporations and institutions could be inadvertently alienating their clients through thoughtless advertising campaigns.

Most adults receive emails and promotional literature straight to their computer inbox or mobile phone from companies and organisations encouraging them to buy products and services to celebrate an ‘official’ day like Mothers or Fathers Day. Post sent out by businesses to peoples homes is also very common as retailers and leisure outlets all compete to maximise sales throughout the seasons.

Celebrating a family member on a particular day is a custom that has been borrowed from America where many special days are added to the calendar to enable sales events to take place especially for the card and gift market with a whole host of other suppliers now jumping on this profitable bandwagon.

According to Wikipedia Mother’s Day was first celebrated by peace activist Anna Jarvis in 1908 as a memorial to her mother. Father’s Day and many other significant days have followed over the last century. Usually held on a Sunday, these days are now celebrated much like Christmas with festivities in place several days before the actual date. The commercialisation of what was previously a simple private occasion is now criticised by many as excessive.

A legal ban on unsolicited emails and promotions sent to an individual that contain specific family member days and celebration events could be considered by policy makers. Potentially a next step to follow the recent GDPR regulations that were introduced last month, one idea could be to include an option to ‘opt out’ to some of the more personal red letter days that occur annually every year.

Big brands could be encouraged to include a specific check box style form. One method could be to introduce a section in customers preferences and account details of their website. A citizen could unsubscribe to popular promotional events that don’t apply to them to avoid any irritating and time wasting inappropriate content from being received.

An example of one email message sent out by an online retailer this week was entitled “Yes! Just In Time For Dad”. The article contained bright photos and prices of thirty gifts that could be bought and delivered by courier this weekend. Nobody in the marketing team would ever want to intentionally cause any upset to their valued clients. However this message is actually rather offensive if the recipient’s father passed away unexpectedly at a young age and their grandfather died earlier this month.

Google, Amazon, Facebook and other companies sophisticated algorithms are able to successfully target online advertising all over our screens every day. So why are we still receiving irrelevant correspondence, that we don’t actually want, from the hundreds of private and charitable companies that most of us are signed up to?

All adults in the UK and America are included in these holidays and many countries in Europe and around the world as well. The entire population is targeted with special offers unless unusually you do not live in a permanent home and you do not own a computer or a television or mobile phone.

Shops also have massive window displays and physical installations that highlight all the relevant products and services for buying for a particularly selected family member. It is probably possible to avoid shopping on the days leading up to an observed family or religious holiday that an individual may not want to observe or may actually want to avoid.

However what if you work for a company that requires you to set up promote the holiday that is not appropriate for you? It is hard to know how to help a work colleague who has lost her Mum to cancer and has to smile through a whole shift on Mother’s Day. Could companies be asking too much to make their employees celebrate something that can be a very personal and emotional subject or that simply doesn’t apply to them during a work day?

Many Mother’s, Father’s, Siblings, Teacher’s, Secretary’s Valentine’s and Grandparent’s days are celebrated around the world and bring joy to millions of people and their popularity means they are definitely here to stay. Using technology it should be possible to easily and politely ‘pass’ on this particular party date if it does not apply to you and avoid any unwanted holidays from distracting, upsetting or ruining your day.