For many retailers, Black Friday is the BIGGEST day of the year. All the price-cutting, door-busting, jaw-dropping deals turn the day into a shopper’s paradise and a media frenzy. Consumers live tweet fellow shoppers, retailers run social promotions, emails are flying out faster than inboxes can handle and traditional mediums scream deals, deals, deals!
In the midst of the hype, it seems as if Black Friday has become a creative marketing event that approaches Super Bowl levels. Sure, deals get your customers in the door, but some brands have shot for the moon with creative stunts. Here’s a look at some of the most creative (and timely) marketing tactics over the years for the holiday shopping season.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: (Okay, technically not Black Friday), but Macy’s practically invented “the holiday season” way back in the 1920s. Since then no one has (and no one ever will) had the impact that the parade has had. The tradition has grown so big that 3.5 million New Yorkers see it live and 50 million more watch it televised every year. The parade has even won multiple Emmy Awards. That’s a ton of publicity raised at just the right time that no other retailer, deal, or clever idea can rival.
Cards Against Humanity: Last year, CAH won Black Friday’s most creative award. Instead of offering a price-cutting deal, Cards Against Humanity actually upped its price $5 for one day only. It was a very bold idea that wouldn’t work for many. But, CAH has a rather quirky fan base (and let’s just say “bold” attitude). So it fit their existing brand, and media outlets everywhere picked it up.
Best of all, the deal actually paid off. Sales spiked for Black Friday, and even increased the following day.
Stores closing: It’s easy for retailers to get swept up in the once-in-a-lifetime blitz deals and media hype. But, instead of searching for big ideas or long-lasting traditions, some actually try to incorporate sensible employee hours. These retailers stay closed on Thanksgiving and have reasonable Black Friday Hours so their employees can actually enjoy the holidays. This is a trend that’s not unique to any one brand, and something I think we are going to see more publicity around in the coming years, especially now as boycotts start. Sure, these practices get covered, but not nearly to the extent that the deals do. I’m still waiting for a brand to really blow this out as a public awareness message, and maybe someone will surprise us this year. See full list of popular retailers closed on Thanksgiving.
What will we see this year? Surely, the Macy’s Day Parade will be another spectacle, and we may see a brand or two try to duplicate Cards Against Humanity’s one-time success. And, we may even see a few clever ways to create sensible employee hours.
Robert Doll is Copywriter at AKHIA.