12.12: Expected!

They would not end the year without a sale that is named after the same numbers for the day and the month. Again

Before Cyber Monday could come to an end, we’re being readied for the 12.12 sale. This floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall, screaming red/orange Shopee poster was seen yesterday afternoon at Orchard Road MRT Station. While we wouldn’t call this wall art, it is massive. Could it be installed to overshadow the 15-year-old Cyber Monday? Or, to extend a monthly sale event that had started in September, the month of the Mid-Autumn Festival? The specific sale date of 12.12 has no precedent, but it looks to be Shopee’s retail event of the month, conceived and marketed to beat the year-end and post-Christmas sales before they can happen.

This could be Shopee’s final sale of 2020, but we aren’t counting on it. With the vexatious and trying Gurmit Singh as Phua Chu Kang (still) helming their mass-appeal ads (to differentiate themselves from Lazada?) or in marketing parlance, “hyperlocal”, is it possible there is more life to this event, predictably based on the day similarly numbered as the month? The last episode of the eight-season sitcom Phua Chu Kang aired on 11 February 2007, more than a decade ago. Yet, the titular character is still so alive in our collective consciousness that Shopee believes he can move merchandise as well and rapidly as the most-followed influencer. Cringe not—“don’t play play”!

But Shopee isn’t the first to tempt the sale-hungry with 12.12. Two days earlier, in the midst of the Black Friday madness—online and offline, the usually atas Sony (they don’t keep pace with the sale seasons) floated a flashing ad that appeared on our social media feeds. It, too, used the same marketing device, playing up that date, leaving no uncertainty as to who they’re targeting. This upcoming event is, in fact, part of Sony Days 2020 Year-End Promotion, the on-going discounting that began last month. It does’t appear to be a separate sale event, with more irresistible buys or unexpected giveaways. Same face different mask.

After spotting the unmissable Shopee MRT ad, we started noticing Zalora’s own 12.12 online shout-out. They call their own version the “Most Awaited Sale of the Year”. Really?! Is it possible that despite markdowns across so many shopping portals since September’s 9.9 (wait, wasn’t there an 8.8 for National Day too?), we’re still awaiting the “sale of the year”? Have we been duped? Had those other monthly sales—even Lazada’s Big Brands Sale or Shopee’s touted as “mega”—not been big at all? Who remembers? And what is the likelihood that 12.12 would be better than 9.9, 10.10, or 11.11? If 12.12 turns out to be nothing but hype, perhaps we would wait (again) for the arrival of the New Year’s Day sale or—no prizes—1.1?

Photos: Chin Boh Kay