January 20 2020 was Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year. Christmas is long behind us, payday seems a long way off, and there's nothing exciting happening. This year, many brands decided to use Blue Monday in their social media marketing. The very same brands who purport to support mental health and well-being. Can a brand really care about mental health if they're using the fact many are feeling low as a sales technique?
Blue Monday was established in 2005 based on research published by Sky Travel, who claimed to have calculated the most depressing day of the year based on an equation. Falling on the third Monday in January, the day does always seem like a dreary one. But is that just because we're supposed to believe it is?
Scientists have dismissed the pseudoscience of Blue Monday. A lot has changed in fifteen years to affect the initial equation, and the impetus behind it - to sell more holidays - blurs the results. Plus, it only applies to the Northern Hemisphere, for one, as weather conditions factor into the equation. The day normally falls on Martin Luther King Jr Day in the USA, so is largely ignored there.
Many brands used the hashtag Blue Monday to combine with their marketing messages on social media. Unfortunately, many brands also implied that the only way to feel better about our lives was to consume and buy from them. It is well established that consumer culture contributes to depression, and we cannot buy our way out of feeling low.
So, to speak one day about the importance of mental health and support for employees and then the next day to be using the fact someone feels low to trick them into buying from you seems like very sharp practice. It does make you question whether brands are only on the mental health bandwagon because it's the corporate social responsibility thing to do and not because they, being humans too, believe in the cause.
On a positive note, some brands did use Blue Monday to offer advice for those feeling low, while others made no suggestions that buying from them would improve your mood. For the avoidance of doubt, loudly enough for those at the back, making purchases you likely can't afford will not help cure your mood. Instead, there are many avenues you can go down to get help with this.