It’s the holiday season and it seems like half of the ads are trying to give you the feels and the other half are trying to bargain with you. In fact, video advertising measurement Ace Metrix company found “that of the 47 retail ads that have appeared thus far in the season, 55% are deal-related, including specific Black Friday promotions. Last year at this time, 111 ads had aired, and roughly the same amount were devoted to deals.”

Then there are the retail brands who are redefining what “winning Black Friday” means. These innovative retailers use Black Friday as a platform for purpose-driven marketing whose benefits outweigh short-term profit from price cutting. They are telling stories about their brands and consumers rooted in purpose, that benefit all – consumers, companies and society. Here are three inspired ways your brand can win Black Friday with Purpose next year.

There are retail brands who are redefining what “winning Black Friday” means.

Use Black Friday to impact culture for the better.
When REI, an outdoor outfitter and coop set out to devise their holiday strategy they didn’t have to search long to find an activation. REI’s customer-inspired purpose is to get us outside doing the things we love. #Opt Outside, born from employee input, became a call to their consumers to cleverly avoid the biggest shopping day of the year (and the hassle). For reminding us that we have a choice to participate in penultimate shopping experience, consumers rewarded REI with increased sales year-round.


What’s your brand’s purpose? Can you use it to align with big cultural trends to provide a healthy alternative to consumerism? Do you have an anti-promotion your customers will value?

Use Black Friday to protect the planet.
The holidays are about giving. However ‘give back’ campaigns to tend to ring false and feel slapdash during the holidays. These campaigns often feature match donation schemes and leave consumers wondering why the brand can’t afford to just to give – and anytime of the year.

Patagonia has long worked with grassroots conservation groups to address the environment, and advertising is a “dead last” priority for them. They know the most pervasive problem grassroots conservation organizations face is money (or the lack of it). By donating their entire Black Friday profits this year, over $10 million, Patagonia gave conservation a much needed shot in the arm. This is especially poignant as a new administration comes into power hell bent on turning back the clock on protecting our environment. It was very lightly advertised, just a simple announcement – no brand anthem needed here. And Patagonia was rewarded with record store visits as well.


Does your company or organization have a sustainability plan – most great brands do – can your brand help advance your goals using Black Friday as a platform for awareness or action?

Use Black Friday to uplift your people.
Everlane, the leading online retailer of basics, practices “radical transparency” going to extremes to detail their product sourcing to both demonstrate the value of the product to consumers and keep it affordable. Since 2014, Everlane has donated the entire proceeds from the Black Friday to one of its factories. Mind you, they don’t own the factories, they source from them, but they value their factories and their thousands of employees well-being.


In 2015, Everlane offered shoppers a choice between three discount options, each of which contributed to health insurance of Everlane’s factory workers to a different extent. This year, through the Everlane Black Friday Fund, they approached their Vietnamese factory, Nobland, to identify a need and learned that the vast majority of workers rode mopeds to work without helmets (20,000 mopeds occur in Vietnam each year). They raised over $117,000 to purchase lightweight high quality helmets for every Nobland employee. The campaign was marketed directly to consumers via their website, social and email and featured a high-quality video. This strategy enabled Everlane’s consumers to shoulder much of the marketing load.

What better time than the holidays to give back to your employees and the supply chain that makes your business’s success possible? Can you leverage Black Friday to shine a light on their needs?

Joel R. Johnson is co-founder and Chief Strategist at Admirable Devil, a purpose driven ad agency.

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