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  • Writer's pictureOCOCO Media

Black Friday Ad Campaigns: The Hall of Fame

Congratulations on surviving the excitement of Black Friday! To celebrate, we’ve curated our very own Hall of Fame, featuring the wackiest, most effective Black Friday ads from over the years. Take a look at who made the cut…

Walmart | Jingle Bell Rockin’

Missy Elliott is blaring through your speakers whilst Cady Heron, Karen Smith and Gretchen Wieners are striding through the halls of North Shore High School. Did you just wake up in 2004? Surprisingly, you’re watching Walmart’s 2023 Black Friday ad.

To celebrate its early launch of Black Friday on Wednesday 8th November, Walmart got the Mean Girls gang back together in a series of nostalgia-inducing ads. Capitalising on the film’s generation-defining success nearly twenty years after its original release, the ads feature five original cast members and are centred around the movie’s most iconic line—“On Wednesdays we still wear pink, but now we shop Walmart Black Friday deals”. Genius!

Putting a twist on a famed scene from the film, the notorious Burn Book has been reimagined as a Deal Book, seen being photocopied and spread around the school to incite chaos with the retailer’s incredible holiday discounts.

Walmart also nailed the timing of this campaign. Although not formally connected, the ads dropped one week before the highly anticipated trailer of the upcoming Mean Girls musical. This is no coincidence, encouraging viewers to associate the Walmart ad with the new film’s promo.

It’s fun, evocative and so fetch!


Cards Against Humanity | $5 More Sale

Cards Against Humanity have been pranking Black Friday shoppers every single year for the past decade. From charging customers for absolutely nothing to pointlessly digging a massive hole, their stunt is always inventive and off-the-wall.

Their best prank of all was played in 2013, holding a 'Black Friday Blowout Sale' in which the card game was available to purchase at a “once in a lifetime” price of $30—that’s $5 more than usual. The tongue-in-cheek sale pokes fun at traditional Black Friday deals and the holiday’s affiliation with overconsumption. It also reflects Cards Against Humanity’s unique brand identity that’s centred around controversy, marketed as a ‘party game for horrible people’.

Cards Against Humanity Black Friday ad. Black background with red and white text, reading "Today only! All Cards Against Humanity products are $5 more. Was $25. Now $30. Don't miss this once-in-a-lifetime sale!"

But was it successful you ask? In fact, Cards Against Humanity retained its position as Amazon’s best selling toy or game and, as seen in the graph below, actually seen a dramatic increase in sales compared to the previous year (AllThingsD). The campaign was a huge hit, proving discounts aren’t everything when it comes to a successful Black Friday marketing strategy.

Graph showing sales figures from Cards Against Humanity's Black Friday $5 More Sale, featuring two lines for last year's sales and this year's sales.


Google | Buying All Black, a #BlackOwnedFriday Anthem

Google has put its own creative spin on Black Friday since 2020 with its annual ‘Black-owned Friday’ campaign, encouraging shoppers to search for and support Black-owned businesses. In 2022, they partnered with three-time Grammy-winning rapper Ludacris and Flo Milli, releasing a new single and interactive video, named Buying All Black.

In the interactive video, Ludacris is transported to businesses through his Google searches. Each scene showcases shoppable products from over 70 Black-owned brands; he visits bookstores, clothing shops, restaurants and a yoga studio to name a few. Nearly everything about the production, from the on-site videographers to featured products, celebrates Black creatives and entrepreneurs!

Think influencer marketing on a huge scale. Ludacris not only helps promote these partner brands, but also provides a fresh twist on Google’s broader initiative to support small and minority-owned businesses.


Patagonia | Don’t Buy This Jacket

This is a controversial one. In the 2011 Black Friday edition of The New York Times, Patagonia published a full-page ad urging readers not to buy their jacket. Yes, you read that correctly: not to buy it.

Photo of Patagonia's Black Friday ad. Newspaper on wooden desk, reading "The New York Times, Friday 25th November 25 2011. Don't Buy This Jacket'.

The ad broke down the environmental cost of one of Patagonia’s best selling jackets, highlighting the 36 gallons of water needed and the 20 pounds of carbon dioxide emitted in its production. Patagonia’s eco-conscious ad aimed to inspire readers to think before they buy, encouraging them to reuse and recycle clothing when they can. To strengthen this message, Patagonia partnered with eBay to create a marketplace for customers to buy and sell their unwanted apparel.

In response to the campaign, many accused the clothing brand of hypocrisy when, as a growing business, their underlying goal is to sell products and make money. Despite their anti-materialistic message, sales actually increased by approximately 30% in the nine months following Black Friday. In response to this criticism, Patagonia claimed the ad aimed to highlight their commitment to sustainability…

"We want to be in business a good long time. The test of our sincerity (or our hypocrisy) will be if everything we sell is usefuL... long-lasting, beautiful but not in thrall to fashion."

Publishing such a provocative anti-sales message helped Patagonia successfully define its mission statement, highlighting its aim to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. Whether you loved or hated the ad, it sure got everybody talking!


Now that the shopping extravaganza is done for another year, we look forward to seeing the exciting creations Black Friday 2024 brings!


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