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10 Creative Black Friday Campaigns That Caught Our Attention in 2021

As another Black Friday bites the dust, we’re rounding up the campaigns that caught our collective eye this year – including green initiatives, an immersive in-person experience and even a reverse sale stunt!

Written By
Hannah Smiddy

Black Friday has been and gone for another year, and as the dust settles on the biggest retail event of the year, we’re looking back on a bustling November of campaigns and the brands that brought them to life.

In a year that saw record-breaking Black Friday sales on Shopify (totalling $2.9 billion no less!1), we saw more and more brands thinking outside the box and rewriting the BFCM rules.

There were plenty of creative alternatives to the standard super-sales that have dominated the ecommerce industry for so long, including pausing online transactions, donating to sustainable or charitable causes, and even turning the tables by paying consumers (more on this one later!).

Plus, we saw lots of real-life examples of brands leveraging attention-grabbing email subject lines, communicating openly with customers, and staying true to their values with authentic collaborations – all things we covered on our blog in the run up to the BFCM period.

Without further ado, here are 10 creative Black Friday campaigns that caught our attention this year …

#1 Raeburn: “Buy Nothing New”

Embracing the recommerce revolution

Black Friday 2021 saw fashion studio Raeburn celebrating the clothes already in circulation and doing their bit to close the loop on retail waste. Not only did they disable their online shop so that shoppers couldn’t buy anything new, they handed over the reins of their brick-and-mortar store to second life clothing platform Responsible for the weekend.

People were able to shop pre-loved clothing from the Raeburn brand, as well as other well-known labels, and also trade in their own pieces for in-store credit and special discounts through Responsible’s Buy Back Scheme – all-in-all helping to combat the fashion industry’s wasteful throwaway culture.

Source: Raeburn on Instagram

Check out some other ways you could get involved in recommerce and help maximise the lifespan of your products in our recent blog post on sustainable Black Friday ideas.

#2 DECIEM: “Slowvember”

Rewriting the BFCM rules (whilst keeping customers informed)

Next up, we’ve got DECIEM, the Toronto-based umbrella company of skincare and makeup brands like The Ordinary, Hylamide, NIOD and more.

Rather than host a flash sale that encourages uninformed impulse buying, DECIEM extended their 23% discount to the whole month of November and asked their customers to “shop slowly”, taking a more conscious, considered approach to their shopping.

On Black Friday itself, they paused their website and closed their brick-and-mortar stores, encouraging people to “focus on connections over transactions” and “celebrate the beauty of slowing down”.

Source: DECIEM customer email

Not only do we like their focus on more informed purchasing, we applaud them for communicating with their customers well in advance about their decision to opt out of Black Friday. They sent an email blast on the 1st of November, explaining why they wouldn’t be taking part in the retail bonanza in its traditional format, and how this would benefit shoppers.

#3 Lucy & Yak: “Fior Di Loto Friday”

Empowering customers to have an impact with every purchase

The team behind independent British clothing brand Lucy & Yak are passionate about driving lasting positive change through a number of sustainable and ethical social initiatives. As part of their mission, they do Black Friday a little differently.

From 24th-29th November, they donated a third of their profits to the Fior Di Loto school, which is next door to their first ever factory in the Indian region of Rajasthan. This money will help provide an education for and improve the living conditions of more than 700 girls in the area, contributing towards things like books, uniforms, teachers and transport.

Over the six-day campaign, they posted regularly on their social channels to say how many girls they’d be able to send to school with people’s Fior Di Loto Friday purchases – perfect for encouraging their followers to get involved and join the collective mission!

Source: Lucy & Yak on Instagram

And over on their Shopify store, their CTA “shop to send a girl to school” certainly packed an emotive punch – especially when paired with photos of the Fior Di Loto schoolgirls who are directly benefiting from people’s purchases.

Source: lucyandyak.com

For our top tips on how to get your customers clicking with effective calls to action like Lucy & Yak, check out our go-to guide here.

#4 dryrobe: “#OptOutside”

Opting out of sales that don’t align with their business

For the sixth year running, UK-based outdoor changing robe company dryrobe made the decision to #OptOutside for Black Friday. They closed their office on Black Friday itself, giving all their staff a paid day off to get active outdoors.

The #OptOutside movement was started by US recreational equipment retailer REI in 2015, with the mission to make Black Friday less about consumerism and more about appreciation of the great outdoors. Since launching, the movement has been supported by thousands of organisations, all eager to celebrate the power of time outside and reject the mass consumption and stress that comes with Black Friday.

Although dryrobe’s website was still operational, they chose to stay true to their ethos and not participate in any BFCM sales, as explained on their blog:

“We don’t want to be a part of the Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales, which simply don’t suit our business or the way we work. Here at dryrobe®, we have always been about making the world’s best change robes and selling them at the best prices we can with the best quality and service, all year round. We believe in the value of our product as a quality investment piece of kit, it’s as simple as that.” 

As well as encouraging their staff to enjoy the outdoors on Black Friday, dryrobe inspired their customers to do the same. They shared simple ways that people can get involved in the #OptOutside movement themselves, with tips on how to support organisations that help make the outdoors and its benefits accessible to everyone.

This was followed by a request for people to share their own Black Friday outdoor experiences on social media – an effective tactic for creating a buzz, raising brand awareness and driving traffic.

Source: dryrobe.com

#5 IKEA: “Buy Back Friday”

Incentivising recycling with a sustainable buy back scheme

Global furniture retail brand IKEA brought their own spin to Black Friday 2021, offering to buy back well-loved furniture that their customers no longer need, rather than see it go to landfill.

Customers were able to earn IKEA vouchers in return (which have no expiry date, as the brand is encouraging shoppers to consume more thoughtfully and buy only when they need). Meanwhile, their pre-loved furniture will go on to be resold in Circular Hubs in-store.

IKEA Family members were incentivised with an extra special offer – an additional 20% on their vouchers between the 19th and 29th of November. Offering loyalty program members exclusive perks like this is a great way of making them feel special, whilst encouraging them to engage with your campaigns.

Source: IKEA customer email

#6 Cards Against Humanity: “Pays You $5 Sale”

Turning the tables with a unique approach to Black Friday

With a history of weird and wonderful Black Friday campaigns that end up going viral, one brand was back at it again in 2021, turning the sale day on its head.

We’re talking about Cards Against Humanity, who launched a reverse sale stunt that meant consumers were the ones getting paid this year! The brand pledged to pay people between $5 and $10,000 each in exchange for performing all sorts of random tasks, which ranged from the simple (like advertising the brand’s dedicated campaign website for $5), to the fun (like following a map to find $5,000 of buried treasure), to the purpose-driven (getting paid $100 to get vaccinated against Covid).

Source: getfivedollars.com

Of course, this isn’t an approach that would work for every business, but with copy-and-paste sales bombarding customers during the BFCM weekend, a unique campaign like this is sure to make your brand stand out from the crowd!

#7 Passenger Clothing: “Green Friday”

Taking responsibility with a one-for-one model

Fans of British clothing retailer Passenger will know just how passionate this brand is about leaving the smallest of footprints behind. With a focus on sustainable materials and mindful creation, sustainability lies at their core.

Their aptly-named Green Friday campaign was all about planting trees and protecting rainforests with every order made, in a bid to give back to the places that matter and rewild the land for a greener future.

Source: Passenger Clothing on Instagram

Discussing the importance of their alternative approach to Black Friday, Founder Richard Sutcliffe said:

“This is the 5th year we’ve swapped ‘Black Friday’ for the Passenger Green Friday, and it really does feel so important this year. I’m hoping that we’ve been able to help a few people think about their footprint during the gifting season over the years, I want people to know that there are positive, responsible alternatives out there.”

#8 Amazon: “Black Friday Live”

Moving offline to connect with customers IRL

Amazon showed that Black Friday campaigns don’t have to be confined to cyberspace with their unique 2021 Black Friday Live event.

They added a whole new dimension to Black Friday, inviting guests to enjoy four days of free, in-person events at London’s Victoria House, including celebrity-hosted experiences, product demos and giveaways. As well as enjoying a packed schedule of events, attendees could also check out some of Amazon’s best Black Friday deals, with household brands such as ELEMIS, Bosch Pro and Hasbro showcasing their discounts. There was also a Christmas market and Support Small Storefront dedicated to the small businesses who sell on Amazon.

Customers could also watch from home, ensuring no-one missed out on the action.

Describing this Black Friday Live event, John Boumphrey, Amazon UK Country Manager, said:

“Our Black Friday experience features dozens of immersive ways to find great deals on gifts, and some of the nation’s best-loved celebrities will join us for these star-studded events. And to top it off, we will have new ways that customers can support small businesses during Black Friday Week with our small business Gift Finder, small business spotlight and dedicated small business deals page.”

Check out the action from the first night of Black Friday Live over on Instagram.

Source: Amazon UK on Instagram

Hosting a pop-up shop or experience like this is an exciting way to showcase your business, gain offline exposure and create a physical representation of your brand identity. Find out more about the benefits of launching a holiday pop-up here.

#9 Community Clothing: “FUCC Black Friday”

Taking a stance against Black Friday and clearly communicating brand position

One brand that chose to completely reject the idea of the BFCM mega sales and position themselves firmly in the anti-Black-Friday corner was UK social enterprise Community Clothing.

On the morning of Black Friday, they sent an email to subscribers with the subject line “FUCC Black Friday” – a phrase that was sure to stand out and grab attention amongst a sea of cookie-cutter “X% off for today only” subject lines.

Inside the email, they repeated this phrase multiple times, between shocking statistics about the overconsumption and wastefulness of the fast-fashion industry. They posted similar content on their social channels too – reinforcing their position in regards to Black Friday and their belief in “buying less, buying better”.

Source: Community Clothing customer email

#10 Baukjen: “#ShopToSupport”

Swapping deals for donations with authentic charity partnerships

Another brand ditching the discounts for Black Friday 2021 was London-based sustainable and ethical womenswear brand Baukjen. Instead, they donated 100% of their net proceeds on all orders placed over the BFCM weekend to two charities that echo their company values of caring for people and the planet: Strut Safe, a women’s safety charity, and World Land Trust, an international conservation charity.

Importantly, Baukjen have remained true to their ethos with their #ShopToSupport campaign. This authentic approach to charity is something that today’s savvy shoppers will recognise and applaud, as you can see in these comments on Instagram.

Source: Baukjen on Instagram

 

Your ecommerce marketing agency

Have these creative Black Friday campaigns inspired you to elevate your ecommerce marketing strategy? Reach out to our team of specialists today to find out how we could help unlock your ecommerce potential with our mix of data-driven, expert-led growth services!

 

For reference:

[1] https://news.shopify.com/black-friday-but-make-it-epic-shopify-merchants-break-records-with-29-billion-in-sales-h8uopp

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