The Best Black Friday Marketing Campaigns You Can’t Afford To Miss

The Best Black Friday Marketing Campaigns You Can’t Afford To Miss
17 October, 2023 • ... • 3603 views
Valeria Shulga
by Valeria Shulga

In a marketer’s calendar, few dates can compare to Black Friday, the biggest sale of the year marking the beginning of the holiday shopping season. That’s why, on Black Friday, all retailers hold large-scale marketing campaigns trying to outshine the competitors and win the audience’s hearts.

Sometimes, it is so hard to find inspiration to generate creative Black Friday ideas. This year, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we have collected examples of the best Black Friday campaigns from both big and small brands to make sure there is something that businesses of any size can learn from.

The best Black Friday campaigns of all time

Let’s take a look at the most creative and attention-grabbing examples of Black Friday marketing. 

Reverse auction by Samsung

Samsung’s banner for Reverse Auction featuring an 85″ QN900B Neo QLED 8K Smart TV, Galaxy Buds2, and Galaxy Z Fold. There is a button in the upper right corner that reads “FIRST BID WINS”
Source: Campaign Brief

About the company: Samsung is a South Korean multinational major appliance and consumer electronics corporation.

The 2022 campaign: On Black Friday, customers anticipate big discounts and are willing to spend money on things they have been eyeing for a while, particularly electronics. Last year in Australia, Samsung came up with the Reverse Auction to encourage people to make up their minds. Bidding started at full retail price and continued to decrease until either all available items were bid for or the price reached $1.

The campaign was promoted through a series of videos that portrayed the Reverse Auction as a breaking news story on TV. While most auction items were known beforehand, the brand included mystery products revealed only on the day.

The Best Black Friday Marketing Campaigns You Can’t Afford To Miss 2
Source: Campaign Brief

The exciting shopping experience drew over 50,000 customers who purchased products at nearly 50% below the recommended retail prices.

#BlackOwnedFriday by Google

Two pairs of hands, facing each other, hold a black heart. The image features an uppercase signature that reads “Google Black-Owned Friday”
Source: BBH

About the company: Google is an American multinational search engine company.

The 2020-2022 campaigns: In 2020, Google launched a special Black Friday campaign to support and draw attention to black-owned businesses and shops during the holiday season amidst the pandemic.

Google invited Wyclef Jean and Ari Lennox to write jingles for local Black-Owned businesses they loved. The music pieces were later transformed into animated videos and Spotify tracks. As the word spread, more and more people on social media shared their favorite places, leading to half a billion media impressions.

But the main highlight of the campaign was the debut of the Black-owned badge on Google Search and Maps. Now, businesses could add the Black-owned badge to their Business Profile, and other people could easily find them through searches like “Black-owned shops” or “Black-owned restaurants.”

The Black-owned badge is represented by an icon of a black heart inside a red circle, with an accompanying message that reads “Identifies as Black-owned”
Source: Google for Small Business

What makes #BlackOwnedFriday rather unique is that the campaign was repeated a year later and then again the following year, and who knows, we might see a new one this year, too.

Both in 2021 and 2022, Google again invited Black artists to create music videos, except this time, they were interactive, allowing viewers to buy whatever they saw on screen.

Highlights from the #BlackOwnedFriday 2021 interactive music video and website, displaying featured products as clickable pop-ups and thumbnails.
The 2021 #BlackOwnedFriday campaign with T-Pain and Normani. Source: Ty Johnson
Sections of the #BlackOwnedFriday 2022 website inviting visitors to watch an interactive music video and shop over 100 products from 70+ Black-owned businesses featured throughout the video
The 2022 #BlackOwnedFriday campaign with Ludacris and Flo Milli. Source: Google

Project Black Friday: The Bank Never Wins by TWOJEYS

About the company: TWOJEYS is a Spanish unisex jewelry brand.

The 2020 campaign: For Black Friday 2020 the brand created a short movie with guest stars, company founders and employees. The film tells the story of a heist at a casino bank and the theft of 10 million euros worth of jewelry. 

It was launched on the company’s Instagram page and resulted in more than 5000 orders within the first 24 hours of publication. Also, it gained 5 million views on Instagram.

Mystery bag by The Verge

One of the Mystery bags by the Verge –– a black city backpack.
Source: The Verge

About the company: The Verge is a tech news website.

The 2019 campaign: The website chose a good old marketing strategy –– a prize draw but with a twist. People love free stuff, and on Black Friday The Verge offered them a chance to win a bag full of the best tech gear and gadgets

There was only one condition: to subscribe to The Verge Twitter account, and that’s it! Existing followers also could participate in the contest and even enter it again and again in exchange for a retweet.

Are you ready to solve the mystery? by 22 Days Nutrition

22 Days Nutrition’s Black Friday email inviting customers to claim a mystery offer on their first purchase using the code from the email
Source: 22 Days Nutrition

About the company: 22 Days Nutrition is a plant-based health food company.

The 2018 campaign: Curiosity is hard to resist. Having added just one new element to the marketing campaign, the brand significantly increased the traffic to their website. 

They sent each customer Black Friday emails offering a unique discount ranging from 20% to 50%. Which one have you got? Go shopping online and find out your fortune!

Mystery savings is a popular format for Black Friday email campaigns and often involves scratch cards or spin-a-wheel mini-games. For most small businesses, interactive elements in emails would be the most affordable way to spice things up, engage subscribers, and drive sales.

#BNSignedEditions by Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble’s Black Friday post on Twitter announces the upcoming sales of the signed editions in their stores and warns that the quantities are limited
Source: Barnes & Noble on Twitter

About the company: Barnes & Noble is an American bookseller.

The 2016 campaign: Who said Black Friday is just for discounts? If lowering prices doesn’t align with your brand values or business model, it’s still possible to find an alternative and run a successful campaign.

Take a look at Barnes & Noble’s solution: in 2016, they released over a half-million autographed books from acclaimed authors as their Black Friday deal. As a result, they had one of their most successful holiday seasons.

Black Friday Deals for Days and #UnwrapTheDeals by Walmart

Walmart’s banner with a calendar marking six days of Black Friday deals
Source: Walmart

About the company: Walmart is an American multinational retail corporation.

The 2020 campaign: During the pandemic Black Friday completely took over online spaces. For obvious reasons, many retailers launched their campaigns exclusively on social media, via emails, or on their websites. Despite being a giant offline retailer, and one of few stores that could at least partially operate offline during the lockdown, Walmart still chose not to stay away and also enter the online game.

The brand launched a 6-day shopping campaign on social media, where they ran multiple mini-campaigns within the main one. 

One of these mini-campaigns #UnwrapTheDeals, a shoppable AR-filter for TikTok, brought the most impressive results. With 5.5 billion views and over 1 million videos created with the hashtag, the campaign helped Walmart break traffic records for a digital sales event.

Walmart lists the creators who helped them to kick off the TikTok campaign: @zachking, @thekingofweird, @jonnymorales, @jfamily, @muslimthicc, and @angryreactions
The campaign kicked off with six TikTok creators to help #UnwrapTheDeals. Source: The Shorty Awards

Limited edition orangutan soap by Lush

Orange soap in the shape of a sitting orangutan
Source: Lush

About the company: Lush is a British cosmetics retailer.

The 2017 campaign: Another good example of a not-just-discounts approach. Lush chose a creative way to highlight one of the company’s key values –– being a cruelty-free brand.

On Black Friday 2017, the company launched a limited edition soap to draw attention to orangutan’s near extinction. All the revenue from sales went to the Sumatran Orangutan Society.

Alternative Black Friday marketing campaigns

As on Black Friday and Cyber Monday an average brand pushes a sale or promotion, it may be hard to stand out. That’s why many retailers set themselves apart from the competition, opting for more thought-provoking campaigns. Here are the best examples:

Black Friday pranks by Cards Against Humanity

The Black Friday banner invites shoppers to buy card packs for $5 more than the regular price. The banner features a button with the text “Consume!” and a message at the bottom exclaiming: “Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime sale!”
Source: BSS commerce

About the company: Cards Against Humanity is a fill-in-the-blank party game for adults.

Cards Against Humanity are known for their unconventional Black Friday campaigns. Doing them for over a decade, the company reached the point when people are genuinely anticipating the upcoming Black Friday, as everyone wonders what CAH are up to this year. For this article, we picked two of our all-time favorites.

The 2013 campaign: While other brands were reducing prices as much as possible, Cards Against Humanity raiseds them. Such a mockery of a Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales culture!

You probably wonder about the results, and here they are:

The graph shows a noticeable uptick in sales from Friday to Saturday in 2013, in contrast to 2012 when sales declined after Black Friday
Source: Business Insider

CAH sold a bit more games than usual on Black Friday, but what’s more important they experienced a nice sales spike on “Regret Saturday” from people who were waiting to buy the game until it came back down in price.

The 2015 campaign: Two years later, Cards Against Humanity offered people to buy absolutely nothing for $5. And yes, 11,248 people gave them $5. Some enthusiastic fans filled out the form multiple times to give the company more than $5, and one person transferred $100 that way.

In total, Cards Against Humanity made $71,145 from that prank. Some of that money went to charities, but some of it, the team spent on buying fun things. When we say “fun,” we mean a Macbook Pro and a gold vibrator with lube.

Cards Against Humanity Black Friday 2015 deal. The email reads “The deal is simple. You give us $5. We give you nothing.”
Source: BSS commerce

It’s quite a bold move, but if it fits into your brand like in the case of Cards Against Humanity, then why not?

A “mistake” tweet by McDonald’s

Black Friday tweet by McDonald's reads “Black Friday ****Need copy and link****
Source: McDonald's on Twitter

About the company: McDonald’s is an American multinational fast food chain.

The 2017 campaign: People still argue whether it was made on purpose, or was an honest mistake by a sleepy staff member (didn’t get enough coffee!). But the fact is that the “mistake” tweet existed for 9 hours and generated 23,000 likes and 11,000 retweets.

Don’t Buy This Jacket by Patagonia

Poster featuring a gray fleece Patagonia jacket with the signature above that reads “DON’T BUY THIS JACKET”
Source: Marketing Week

About the company: Patagonia is an American designer of outdoor clothing and gear for silent sports.

The 2011 campaign: In 2011, Patagonia launched their first alternative Black Friday campaign called “Don’t Buy This Jacket,” which was meant to make a wider audience aware of the pitfalls of consumerism. 

With this smart ad, the company encouraged people to reduce, reuse, recycle, and repair their items instead of buying new ones. The campaign was published in the New York Times, both in online and paper magazines.

“Buy Less. Buy Better” by Hiut Denim

Hiut Denim is making their Black Friday 2017 statement on Twitter saying, among other things: “Black Friday feels like a battle to see who can be the cheapest”. The post has 151 retweets and 415 likes.
Source: SiteKit

About the company: Hiut Denim is a Welsh brand producing jeans for men and women.

The 2017 campaign: The brand shut down their website for Black Friday –– a simple yet elegant move. They stated, that they are already charging a fair price and become sick of all the Black Friday ads and special deals. 

The campaign resulted in numerous positive reviews from Hiut Denim’s existing customers and even attracted new audiences:

Mostly supportive Facebook comments to Huit Denim’s Black Friday campaign in 2017
People commenting on the campaign on Huit Denim’s official page on Facebook

Ten Things That Last by Buy Me Once

Collage featuring items from the 2021 Black Friday campaign by Buy Me Once. The photos show clothing items, kitchenware, home textiles, a steel razor, and headphones
Source: Drapers

About the company: Buy Me Once researches and sells long-lasting products.

The 2021 campaign: The brand encourages consumers to choose longer-lasting products instead of throwaway ones while offering good deals on these items. Before launching the campaign, Buy Me Once sent the customers a survey to figure out what products they actually want but were struggling to afford. 

After analyzing the results, they chose the ten most requested items and discounted them for Black Friday –– you can find them in the picture above.

#BlackoutFriday campaign by Pantee

Pantee is making their anti-consumerism Black Friday statement on Instagram: “Stop and think before you buy. Is it something you love? Is it something you need?”
Source: Pantee on Instagram

About the company: Pantee is a British sustainable underwear brand.

The 2021 campaign: The company is against mindless consumption. That’s why on Black Friday they made online shopping on their website available only for those on the mailing list. The members of the existing community received the password and got access to new and best products that appeared on the website on Black Friday.

“Break tradition, not the planet” by Allbirds

On Allbirds' Black Friday web page, the top image depicts an open human hand from which trees are growing. The title reads “Break tradition, not the planet”
Source: Swanky Agency

About the company: Allbirds is a New Zealand and American sustainable accessory and footwear brand.

The 2020 campaign: Instead of lowering the prices for Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping, as do many other retailers, the company decided to increase all prices across their entire collection by £1

Such a move serves two purposes: to show their commitment to sustainability best practices and to donate extra money to Fridays For Future, the youth-led international climate movement founded by climate activist Greta Thunberg. 

“ReVivo” promotion by VivoBarefoot

Collage of two shoes: one aged and dusty, the other brand new, linked by circular arrows symbolizing the transformation from 'WORN' to 'REBORN' text
Source: Milled

About the company: VivoBarefoot is making barefoot shoes with minimalistic design.

The 2021 campaign: On Black Friday, the brand promoted their ReVivo platform. This platform is used for purchasing repaired shoes that have either been returned by other customers or that are surplus or ex-display stock. 

Such a thoughtful approach to this day correlates best with the values of the company.

Summing it up

It doesn’t really matter what strategy you choose for your Black Friday marketing campaigns –– traditional or alternative. The most important is that this strategy aligns with the values of your brand and meets the needs of your target audience. 

We’ll be updating this article every year with fresh examples of Black Friday campaigns. Stay tuned for more!

For additional seasonal inspiration, especially in email marketing, explore the best examples of Black Friday emails and choose your favorite subject lines from our top picks.

The article was originally published in November 2022 and was updated in October 2023 to remove campaigns that didn’t age well and add a few new ones that we loved from last year.

17 October, 2023
Article by
Valeria Shulga
A writer by nature, study, and trade with more than 7 years of experience. Contributor at Selzy wearing many hats: I create special content projects, write articles, and own Facebook and Reddit communities. My expertise lies in email and content marketing, but I also have experience with the topics of real estate and immigration. Outside of work, I like spending my free time learning foreign languages, seeing plays at our local theaters, and doing yoga.
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