John Lewis MD’s hope for the ‘high water’ mark for Black Friday a ‘vain hope’, says Very head of social Ben Cooper

The hope for the “high water” mark for Black Friday expressed by John Lewis managing director Andy Street earlier this week is a “vain hope” according to Very.co.uk’s head of PR and social media Ben Cooper, who has predicted a US-style, week-long run up to the sale in 2015.

Speaking to The Drum, Cooper, who is a judge at The Drum’s 2015 Marketing Awards, said he expects the Black Friday shopping craze, which swept the UK with fervour last year, to only grow, with a week-long build to the event a likely move.

“I think the rise of black Friday is something that is here to stay. I know John Lewis [MD Andy Street] said [he] hopes it doesn’t increase but I think that’s probably a vain hope.

“I think this year we saw some of the American retailers such as Amazon and Walmart extending black Friday into a week-long piece of activity beforehand and I think we’ll see more of that this year and people extending the period even greater.”

Cooper revealed that Very fared “very well” on Black Friday, seeing its biggest trading day in its five-year history, but admitted that the retailer was still surprised by the huge levels of traffic on the day, despite preparing for the onslaught.

“It was a massive success for us but any time you’re driving a load of consumers into buying on one day you’re putting a lot of pressure on infrastructure. It still took people by surprise how big it was, and we saw levels of traffic well beyond what we anticipated.”

Speaking about the crowded marketplace that e-commerce fashion has become – just this week Boohoo.com issued a profit warning after its marketing investment failed to push forward expected growth – Cooper hailed Very’s department store model as the secret to its success, particularly on Black Friday when the site sold high amounts of games consoles and TV’s, an offering which Cooper said “sets us apart” from the likes of Misguided and Boohoo.

Content marketing has become a focus for Very and Cooper revealed that the retailer will be ramping up its vlogging activity to help “carve out a space” in the video world, with content planned around Valentine’s day, the details of which Cooper remained tight-lipped.

The launch of Very Exclusives – which mimicks Very.co.uk’s payment model but will stock high-end fashion labels – is also on the horizon, and Cooper hinted at activity set to take place around London Fashion Week in February.

Moving on to The Drum Marketing Awards, which covers 25 categories from social media strategy to integrated strategy, Cooper said that he will be looking for entrants that show “real and different ways of doing things”.

“Innovation is such a big driver in everything that we do [at Very] and everything that is successful in the market at the moment. So I’ll be looking for a fresh approach to doing things. I’ve worked in retail, FMCG, entertainment, agency side and client side and it will be that breadth that I’m looking for.

The deadline for entries to The Drum Marketing awards is Friday 30 January 30 at 5pm, with an awards ceremony set for 7 May in central London. Get your entries in here.