There’s something about Black Friday that seems to bring out the worst in GameStop’s corporate leadership, and this year the video game retailer has found a bizarre new way to appear petty and out of touch. The company has invited employees to submit dance videos in the hopes of winning prizes that include extra work hours during that holiday shopping week.
“Be creative, rope in your team, and have fun with it! Don’t worry, you can’t look as bad as the event team does!” reads the prompt for one of GameStop’s latest employee contests, the Incisiv TikTok Dance Challenge. Stores are supposed to send their best #redwinechallenge videos (any dance routine that’s set to UB40’s “Red Red Wine”) to the marketing firm Incisiv. The winning store will then get awarded an Echo 8, Echo Auto, $100 Visa gift card, and “10 additional labor hours” to use during Black Friday week.
“Imagine what you could do with all those prizes!” the contest reads. The company’s event team posted its own #redwinechallenge video on YouTube on October 28 as an example for stores to follow:
GameStop did not respond to a request by Kotaku for comment.
Like lots of retailers, GameStop stores have a limited number of total hours employees can work in a given period. Even if a manager wanted to give out extra shifts around an especially busy time, like say, Black Friday, they wouldn’t be able to exceed whatever their monthly budget was. As anyone who’s ever worked retail knows, work that can’t get done during the allotted number of hours still needs to get done, it just goes unpaid. It’s also wage theft and different forms of it total an estimated $15 billion annually in money that’s taken from workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
“Hours have always been a sensitive subject for the managers,” one former GameStop employee told Kotaku. “They’re typically running their stores off strict hour allotments which causes the managers to overwork themselves or run their stores with limited help.”
GameStop has been criticized in the past for keeping its stores open on Thanksgiving Day in order to get a headstart on Black Friday shopping, but unlike last year the company will keep its doors closed this time around. Instead, the TikTok contest comes at a time when stores are preparing for the launch of a new set of consoles even as the rate of new covid cases begins to spike again across the country. “Some of us have holiday help to hire and train in 3 weeks and prefer to not be on tik tok,” one apparent employee wrote on the GameStop subreddit.
Earlier this year, Gamestop tried to call itself an “essential business” during the pandemic, in order to stay open as state governments ordered shutdowns. They did so while the company’s employees called it out over a lack of resources and procedures needed to operate more safely. In a September earnings call, GameStop CFO Jim Bell (who makes $700,000 a year just in salary) announced the closure of 100 more stores through the end of the year.