The leaking of Black Friday ads have become quite a problem for many business over the past few years. Somehow people are getting a hold of Black Friday ads before they are released and posting them online, but business are unaware of how this happens. Wal-Mart, though, has been taking the initiative to correct this by pursuing legal action against the people who post these ads without their permission. They claim it to be a negative externality because other companies can steal their strategic plan. Companies have taken marketing approaches to fix this issue like Home Depot only releases their ads on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
I believe that it can be a negative externality when their ads are leaked, but I also believe that it can be a positive externality for companies. I am a bargain shopper and I am attracted to the "low price" and the "great deal" ads on Black Friday. I also know that I start looking for those ads at least a week in advance. My wife and I knew we wanted a TV and we know which TV that we wanted from Wal-Mart before the ad was sent to us in the mail. I believe that the positive externalities of this issue outweighs the negative. I believe that consumers like having that information early to plan and evaluate their Christmas budget. I don't believe other stores have enough time to copy a competitor's strategy if the part of the ads are leaked a week in advance. The positive benefits and extra sales that companies see on Black Friday due to leaked ads outweigh the costs.