11 Standout Campaigns From Black Friday 2023

Check out these creative and effective campaigns that retailers can use as inspiration for next year’s BFCM shopping event.

As the dust settles on this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) shopping frenzy, it’s time to reflect on some of the most inspiring marketing campaigns that captured the attention, hearts, and wallets of consumers. In a landscape saturated with promotions and discounts, only the truly exceptional campaigns managed to cut through the noise and leave an indelible mark. This blog unveils the top 11 standout marketing campaigns that not only navigated the complexities of an ever-evolving market but also set new benchmarks for creativity, innovation, and consumer engagement. 

1. Walmart’s Mean Girls Ad Series

Walmart’s Black Friday campaign stands out for its epic fusion of nostalgic “Mean Girls” characters brought back to life to promote the hottest new BFCM deals. The series of videos feature Lindsay Lohan, Lacey Chabert, and Amanda Seyfried reprising their roles from the 2004 comedy, with a delightful twist – some characters now have children of their own. Each week of November, a different Mean Girl was featured in videos and social posts that cleverly incorporated memorable nods to the original film alongside special Walmart promotions. In the videos, the retail giant urged customers to start their holiday shopping as early as Nov. 8, with even greater benefits for Walmart+ members. 

2. Google’s Black-Owned Friday Campaign

This year, Google continued its focus on promoting and uplifting Black-owned businesses through its “Black-Owned Friday” campaign featuring Keke Palmer. The initiative introduced 12 Black-owned businesses, featuring 25 Black-owned brands and 50 shoppable products on its dedicated “Black Owned-Friday” site. In addition to shining a spotlight on these brands and products, Google used the campaign to show viewers how to search, shop, and support Black-owned businesses throughout the rest of the year.

3. Jumia’s Let Your Pocket Breathe Campaign

In September, Nigeria’s inflation rate hit 26.72% – the highest it’s been in two decades. With millions of Nigerians severely affected by the cost-of-living crisis, Jumia — the country’s leading online shopping mall — strategically positioned itself as more than just a profit-driven business. It acknowledged the financial strain faced by its customer base while actively seeking to alleviate it through enticing deals.

4. Tentree’s Tree Planting Promotion

Tentree BFCM promotion

At tentree, the conventional “buy more, save more” pitch had dual meaning this year. The company’s special edition 3-Item Mystery Boxes, promoted as “the ideal holiday gift,” included three surprise eco-friendly items as well as the planting of 30 trees. Initially hesitant about participating in BFCM, the brand leveraged the busiest shopping period to champion its ambitious mission: planting 1 billion trees by 2030. The campaign reinforces the brand’s commitment to sustainability by encouraging small, everyday eco-friendly choices, emphasizing the impact consumers can make. Each purchase not only adds value for the buyer but contributes to the regeneration of ecosystems, carbon capture, and the creation of planting jobs worldwide. 

5. Barnes & Noble’s Signed Editions Campaign

Barnes & Noble BFCM promotion

Barnes & Noble tried a different approach from the conventional discount-driven sales of Black Fridays past. This year, instead of focusing on price-slashing, the brand chose to promote Black Friday items that potentially have more value: over half a million autographed books from its bestselling authors. The decision to offer signed books caters to book lovers but also aligns with the brand’s objective of providing more meaningful and personalized purchases. Barnes & Noble will keep the campaign going past BFCM for as long as there are stocks, prioritizing the unique connection it builds between readers and authors.

6. Patagonia’s Let’s Find a Better Way Campaign

Patagonia BFCM promotion

Positioning itself as an “anti-Black Friday” advocate, Patagonia appealed to the eco-conscious consumer by challenging the craze associated with this shopping event. The campaign urges a shift in mindset – from impulsive consumption to mindful choices that impact the planet long-term. Instead of opting for a brand new item every time, consumers are encouraged to consider buying used items, trading in or repairing existing possessions, or choosing high-quality, durable gear. These actionable alternatives and the brand’s initiatives such as Patagonia Action Works help shoppers redefine their relationship with consumption.

7. Yowza by Cards Against Humanity

For Black Friday, Cards Against Humanity chose to highlight the absurdity of social media and consumerism. In a satirical move, the creators introduced a new social network called Yowza! where users can only perform one action — posting the word “yowza.” Embracing a tongue-in-cheek style, the campaign parodies the often mindless and overwhelming nature of social networks. While maintaining the comedic tone, the campaign cleverly monetizes the absurdity, offering users the chance to enhance their experience by purchasing special features like an exclusive checkmark.

8. Mystery Packs by Sugarbones

Sugarbones saw BFCM as an opportunity to infuse a bit of joy and excitement into its customer experience. As part of its “Pink Friday” initiative, marketed as “a sale sent from Heaven,” Sugarbones customers were able to purchase a Mystery Pack of discontinued special items. This approach is not only appealing to shoppers who like surprises, it’s also an ingenious method to clear out older inventory.

9. Ikea’s Campaign on Free Assembly Parts

IKEA’s BFCM campaign encouraged customers to focus on upgrading or repairing their furniture, which are more sustainable choices than simply buying replacements. Expanding on the company’s “Keep good things going” campaign, which launched in May 2023, IKEA’s Black Friday ads highlighted the availability of over four thousand free assembly parts, including nuts, bolts, screws, dowels, and fittings. This service is available all year round, but the Black Friday emphasis on repair instead of replace hit a note that resonated with both price-conscious and environmentally-conscious shoppers.

10. Wayfair’s “Everything Ships Free” Tactic

Wayfair’s “Everything Ships Free” Cyber Week campaign tackles a common pain point – shipping costs for furniture. Furniture is notoriously expensive to ship, making Wayfair’s offer of free shipping an enticing proposition for consumers looking to update their homes. The campaign strategically combines attractive discounts with inspirational edits, providing customers with curated ideas for home improvements. Additionally, the inclusion of “deals of the day” injected a sense of urgency, compelling customers to seize time-sensitive opportunities swiftly. 

11. Lululemon “We Made Too Much” Campaign

Lululemon’s “We Made Too Much” campaign extends the excitement of special prices well beyond the holiday shopping rush. The lingering discounts present an impressive array of finds, leaving shoppers with ample opportunities to snag quality items even past BFCM. It’s a win-win for the brand and its customers, as Lululemon is able to clear out stagnant inventory and shoppers continue to delight in the thrill of bargain hunting.

Lasting Impressions

Beyond discounts, BFCM 2023 became a canvas for creativity and conscientious commerce. The campaigns we found the most intriguing were not just about dollars saved, but showcased a real commitment to customer connection and societal responsibility. As the digital dust settles from BFCM, it’s becoming more and more clear that this is not just a shopping event — it’s an opportunity for brands to leave lasting impressions.