Black Friday Campaign Highlights

Christine Douglas

Marketing strategies for Black Friday have become increasingly competitive and creative. Some retailers are now open on the day of Thanksgiving, which has led to a backlash from some consumers (who may see the additional hours as punitive to store employees or as an unfair shopping advantage for those without the usual family dinner plans). It’s more important than ever for retailers to keep up with the latest trends, and now they have Cyber Monday to consider too. Here are a few Black Friday highlights from popular campaigns this November.



REI, an outdoor adventure supplies retailer, is trending now with their campaign to #OptOutdoors. REI is shutting its doors on Black Friday, while other retailers continue to open earlier and earlier. This approach slams the door in the face of mainstream wisdom, but it works for their brand by encouraging their employees and customers to go outside and enjoy the outdoors.

Plus, if customers are outdoors, they aren’t shopping at competitive stores. And, they can still shop online if they wanted to do so—the REI website is still available. Retailers are finding that sales growth for Black Friday is dramatically increasing online, which then leads into Cyber Monday. This is a creative, statement-making campaign that spread quickly. Other outdoor gear companies, like Seattle-based Outdoor Research, also embraced the #OptOutside campaign. Brand awareness and loyalty is surging.

Big Lots got a lot of attention last year with their “Nailing It” campaign, but that means this year they had to be even more creative and come up with something that would be at least as viral and relevant. Their creation is “She’s A Black Friday Woman,” to the tune of Santana’s “Black Magic Woman.” It suggests that women make the holidays special through bargain-hunting expertise at Big Lots. Though potentially a bit risky to use this stereotype of women, they seem to be going for it. The campaign goes further to suggest that Big Lots is just the place to pick up some of those deals on Black Friday and every day, starting now. In other words, Black Friday is all year long at Big Lots! Now that’s really extending the season.


REI, along with Staples and GameStop, are advertising Thanksgiving closures. However, some retailers stand to risk a lot more than others and can’t take this step. It sounds altruistic of these companies, but the risk is not as great for them as other retailers, and some have never been open anyway and are just taking advantage of consumer sentiment to boost awareness.

The early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the sales. Retailers like Macy’s and Sears are trying to get the jump by opening ahead of other stores. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has long been a tradition. For the third year in a row, Macy’s will be open on the holiday and is inviting customers to get a head start on Black Friday by opening at 6 pm. Opening on Thanksgiving evening is a strategy that’s working for Sears too. This is the second year for them to open their doors to customers before many take their first bite of turkey.



Amazon and Walmart duke it out for the Black Friday win. Amazon is the online star, with analysts (DealNews) reporting that 83 percent of shoppers are planning to pick up deals there on Black Friday. Walmart is the brick-and-mortar retail giant, with 62 percent of store shoppers planning a Black Friday visit. Target (at 61 percent) and Best Buy (57 percent) are also big destinations for holiday deal-seekers.

These retailers set expectations for gaining consumer dollars. There is a lot at stake to win not only Black Friday, but to the broader season. It turns out that, with all the hype around REI’s #OptOutside, these retailers are playing it safe and moving their campaigns away from Twitter and onto their homepages, which are full of Thanksgiving and Black Friday deal busters. Free shipping and price matching are being offered to attract shoppers as well.

The trend is also to spread out the marketing, with campaigns such as “Deals Week,” which means that Black Friday numbers will appear to deflate over time. Retailers should analyze the seasonal data to see who comes out on top.


Retailers are executing on their Black Friday strategies and also responding to campaigns that get traction. Instead of manually checking up on your competitor’s promotions strategies, the Quad platform gives you the ability to search tweets, emails, and homepage promotions all in one place. Save resources and time with Quad’s data solutions instead of endlessly scrolling through Twitter and visiting all of your competitor’s homepages daily.

With Quad’s help, retailers can quickly figure out where and how others are executing their Black Friday campaigns this year. The data is all in one place and makes it easy to stay on top of the trends you need to know about.

Many thanks to Christine Douglas for contributing this blog post based on her years of eCommerce experience, as well as for being a user of the Quad application. Take a look at her website ( to learn about her and read more great articles.

Christine Douglas