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13 Most Viral Black Friday Campaigns (2023)

Last year, Shopify merchants broke Black Friday records, making $7.5 billion in sales. The most wonderful time of the year for shoppers is just around the corner, which means it’s time to start planning your Black Friday marketing campaigns if you want a slice of this year’s action. 

Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) is an exciting prelude to the holiday shopping season, as consumers enjoy a long weekend to take advantage of fruitful deals, get ahead of gift-giving plans, or simply treat themselves.

Despite the stress and competitiveness surrounding preparation for this sales period, there are great rewards for businesses when BFCM campaigns are executed strategically. 

Here are some of the most creative Black Friday marketing campaigns we’ve seen. 

Table of contents

1. 22 Days Nutrition’s random discount codes

22 Days Nutrition’s Black Friday email shared a unique discount code with each shopper
22 Days Nutrition’s Black Friday email shared a unique discount code with each shopper

Everyone likes a good deal, but 22 Days Nutrition took it a step further and gamified its Black Friday. The popular food supplement brand offered a unique discount code for each subscriber that unlocked a randomly generated discount between 20% and 50%. 

The brand increased web traffic to its site as shoppers’ curiosity got the better of them—people wanted to find out how much discount they’d “won.” 

Tip: Use Shopify Email to launch and track your BFCM campaigns from your Shopify dashboard. 

2. Sugarbones’ mystery box

Cheyenne Federiconi has always loved to create things. At an early age, she began selling commissioned artwork inspired by video games. But it was during art school that she found her own artistic style: feminine aesthetics with empowering messages. 

“Pink, sparkly, and girly designs always get put down for being weak or unpowerful,” Cheyenne says. “So I mixed the aesthetic with a lot of themes and characters to create a dynamic that empowers.” 

Smashing the starving artist stereotypes, Cheyenne turned her talent into a business. Under the moniker Sugarbones, she initially monetized her designs by printing them on stickers, later expanding her business to include enamel pins, patches, accessories, and apparel. 

Fun jewelry pins from Sugarbones in silver, gold, and pastel pink
From pins and patches to jewelry and apparel, Sugarbones is all about empowering femininity.

Cheyenne views BFCM as a time to treat Sugarbones’ customers to a little fun, and her campaigns often make use of surprise and mystery. “I’ll add in bonus stickers or a miniature art print for all orders during BFCM,” says Cheyenne. 

Her door crasher comes in the form of a mystery box filled with multiple pins, patches, and stickers. “Ordering a mystery box is like receiving a present where you don’t know what’s inside it, which is exciting for those who love surprises,” Cheyenne says. “It’s also a different approach without discounting the whole store and a great way to clear out inventory of older items.” 

Sugarbones’ BFCM campaigns are built around fun and excitement, but behind the scenes, Cheyenne works hard to ensure things run smoothly. As the sole owner and operator of her business, she juggles a bevy of responsibilities. To prepare for BFCM and the hectic holiday season, Cheyenne stocks inventory at least a month in advance and finishes all of her email and social marketing materials a week beforehand. 

3. Tentree’s Green Friday campaign

While spending a semester in Hawaii, Canadians Dave Luba and Kalen Emsley found themselves immersed in nature, thanks in large part to days spent hiking and surfing. These experiences inspired them to look for ways to help preserve the world’s natural wonders. 

They followed the footsteps of socially conscious enterprises and brands like Toms, and in 2012, the duo launched Tentree, an apparel company committing to planting 10 trees for every item sold. 

Initially, Tentree struggled with the idea of participating in Black Friday Cyber Monday. “We wanted to stay away from the negative impacts of consumerism and stimulating sales of items that were not needed,” says Shawn McIntyre, ecommerce manager at Tentree. Tentree’s Green Friday campaign is one of many small business Black Friday campaigns that aim to promote sustainable practices during the consumer event.

“We looked at our company, mission, and products and realized there was a huge opportunity for us to promote our cause and create change during the busiest shopping period,” Shawn says. The team set a goal of planting one million trees through this year’s BFCM sales, doubling their target from last year.

A “Green Friday” launch email from Tentrees
Tentree’s Green Friday announcement states its goal to plant 250,000 trees.

During its Green Friday campaign, Tentree offers a sitewide percentage discount alongside additional daily promotions, like mystery bonus gifts, new product releases, and free shipping. To reward its top customers, Tentree also offers early access and exclusive deals. It announces Green Friday and other promotional offers through Black Friday email campaigns that show a live goal meter for the number of trees that will be planted. The campaign is also advertised on social.

Photo of a man wearing a Tentree t-shirt in the wild
Putting the environment first from design to marketing, Treentree is committed to planting one million trees this BFCM.

Tentree’s main goal for its Green Friday campaign is to raise awareness. One way it does this is by providing customers with unique codes they can use to track where their trees will be planted. From Madagascar to Haiti to Nepal, Tentree has been able to successfully reposition Black Friday Cyber Monday to align with its mission statement and plant seeds of change. 

4. The Wallack’s customer retention campaign

The Wallack’s name is synonymous with art in Canada’s capital. This Ottawa art store and gallery has been an institution for more than 80 years, and Michael Wallack, the current president and third-generation owner, is carrying on the legacy. 

When Wallack’s opened its ecommerce store, artists in remote places could purchase supplies and browse the shop’s inventory. “When artists get inspired, they want to figure out what materials or colors they’ll need to complete a project, so our website is a helpful place for planning and inspiration,” Michael says.

Flat lay image of a selection of Wallack’s paints and paintbrushes
Wallack’s discounts items that the majority of its customers will benefit from during its BFCM sale.

Wallack’s initially began participating in Black Friday Cyber Monday to stay competitive against American art suppliers and Canadian companies who adopted the sales period. Now, its main motivation is to benefit its lifelong customers. 

Michael highlights the company’s 12-month planning cycle as a key component to building a Black Friday ecommerce promotion that fits with its profitability, inventory, and, most importantly, customers’ needs. “This period is an opportunity to help customers replenish their supplies at a better price. We don’t view it as a way to get new customers, but rather a way to give our customers a deal they need,” Michael says.

Flat lay image of a selection of Wallack’s pencils and art equipment
Various tools offered by Wallack’s for those who find creativity in drawing.

Art projects come in many forms, and there are countless tools available to bring an artist’s vision to life. Wallack’s tries to discount items that appeal to the most customers during its Black Friday Cyber Monday campaign. 

In previous years, customers enjoyed Black Friday sales on supplies and materials that need to be frequently restocked, like oil and acrylic paints. With a focus on serving and selling to existing customers, Wallack’s campaigns are typically featured through its website, email list, and social accounts. By approaching Black Friday Cyber Monday in its own way and putting artists first, Wallack’s campaigns will continue and expand its legacy. 

Tip: Create a powerful shopping experience for existing customers with Shopify Inbox. You can engage in real-time conversations, send product recommendations, and share personal discount codes from an instant chat window. 

5. Barnes & Noble’s #BNSignedEditions campaign 

Screenshot of a Tweet announcing the launch of Barnes & Noble’s #BNSignedEditions campaign
Barnes & Noble launched its Signed Editions campaign during Black Friday.

Barnes & Noble has always been a Black Friday trendsetter. In a bid to shun the traditional discount frenzy during the holiday shopping event, the bookstore decided to do something unique in its industry. Instead of slashing prices, the brand released over half a million autographed books from its bestselling authors as part of its Black Friday campaign. In fact, the campaign was such a hit, it contributed to Barnes & Noble’s most successful holiday season. 

The brand promoted signed editions from Lee Child, Rupi Kaur, Nick Offerman, Reese Witherspoon, and many, many more—a promotion that continues to this day

6. Gymshark’s Black Friday wish list guide

Gymshark’s training leggings were a total hit last Black Friday, becoming one of the bestselling products among all Shopify merchants. As well as sharing fun, relatable gym content on social media, the sportswear brand also put together a detailed guide showing shoppers how to make the most of Black Friday. 

As well as outlining what discounts shoppers could expect, the brand included a step-by-step guide for creating a wish list to cash in on the best deals. 

Gymshark’s guide to creating a Black Friday wishlist
Gymshark helps shoppers make the most of BFCM with this handy wishlist guide.

7. Lush’s limited edition orangutan soap

Black Friday can be a great time to stand out from the crowd and share your brand values—something that Lush leaned into for Black Friday a few years ago. The skin care brand launched a limited edition orangutan-shaped soap to reiterate its values as an organic brand dedicated to helping the planet. 

Every penny from the campaign went to SOS and the Orangutan Information Center to raise awareness of how close orangutans are to extinction. To mirror how many Sumatran orangutans remained in the wild, Lush produced exactly 14,600 soaps to sell during Black Friday weekend—unsurprisingly, they all sold out. 

8. Patagonia’s Don’t Buy This Jacket campaign

The ad for Patagonia’s Don’t Buy This Jacket campaign
Patagonia launched its Black Friday Don’t Buy This Jacket campaign in The New York Times.

Outdoor brand Patagonia is renowned for its commitment to longevity. In line with its previous campaigns, like Worn Wear, where customers could get their items fixed for free, the brand launched its Don’t Buy This Jacket campaign for Black Friday. Going against the common trend of slashing prices and offering huge discounts, the brand actively encouraged shoppers not to buy anything. 

The aim was to get shoppers to stop and think about consumerism and its impact on the planet, with the ultimate goal of encouraging people to reduce, reuse, and repair the items they already own instead of simply buying more. 

9. Cards Against Humanity’s anti-Black Friday campaign

An announcement from Cards Against Humanity for their anti-Black Friday campaign
Cards Against Humanity has a fun, tongue-in-cheek way of promoting its Black Friday “offers.”

Cards Against Humanity is another brand that bucks the traditional Black Friday trend. Like Patagonia and Lush, the card company decided to use the shopping holiday to promote its values and spotlight the effects of consumerism. 

Instead of reducing prices, the brand increased its prices. This isn’t the first time Cards Against Humanity has played around with traditional marketing trends on Black Friday. One previous campaign “allowed” shoppers to buy nothing for $5, while another campaign saw the brand slash its prices by a whopping 99%.

A Black Friday email from Cards Against Humanity
Cards Against Humanity sends customers an email asking for $5 in return for nothing.

10. Cartier’s extended returns policy 

Luxury jewelry brand Cartier is so confident its customers will love its products it extended its Black Friday returns window to three months. Shoppers who took advantage of the brand’s holiday discounts had until January 15 to return any unwanted items, a goodwill gesture that aimed to reassure anyone on the fence. 

A banner promoting Cartier’s extended holiday returns policy on its website
Cartier includes a banner promoting its holiday returns deal at the top of every web page.

Having a decent returns policy is a great way to convince new customers to try out your products during an event like Black Friday. 

Tip: Use AfterShip Returns to allow customers to monitor their returns and automate the returns process. 

11. Sephora’s free shipping 

Similarly to Cartier, Sephora wanted to remove any obstacles from potential customers. During its annual Black Friday event, the beauty brand offers free shipping the entire weekend, as well as 50% off products across its store. Adding an incentive like this is a great way to attract new shoppers and tap into the power of impulse buying. 

The banner on Sephora’s homepage promotes its free shipping deal on Black Friday
Sephora offers customers free shipping throughout the entire Black Friday weekend.

12. Polysleep’s mock “leaked email” campaign

In 2016, Jeremiah Curvers injured himself at a golf tournament and was bedridden for three months with a double herniated disc. Not resigned to spending his time resting idly, he began obsessively researching mattresses that offered stronger support and better rest.

Through his search, Jeremiah met some of the mattress industry’s key foam manufacturers, and decided to start Polysleep, a foam mattress company based in Montreal, Canada. 

Promotional image from Polysleep showing a woman sleeping in bed
By marketing new offers to Polysleep mattress owners, the team aims to create a ripple effect, as loyal customers spread word of the company’s upcoming promotions.

With massive venture-backed mattress-in-a-box companies dominating the market, Jeremiah worked closely with his supplier to differentiate Polysleep’s product. “The type of hybrid foam we use is more breathable and the construction offers stronger support, edge to edge,” he says. Jeremiah also credits Polysleep’s competitive pricing as a differentiator, an advantage he’s secured by operating closely with suppliers and maintaining lower margins. 

When it comes to Black Friday Cyber Monday, Jeremiah gets creative with his campaigns. One year, the Polysleep team created a mock “leaked” email that spilled the details of an upcoming sale to their email subscribers. 

Lots of subscribers participated in the sale and many forwarded the email to friends and family members who needed a new mattress. Jeremiah explains the sale had a domino effect: “A lot of people, after seeing that email, started interacting with the brand on a more personal level, because it pulled back a corporate curtain and showed people Polysleep’s personality.” 

13. Glossier’s Only Sale of the Year campaign

Black Friday is a highly anticipated shopping event for even the most reserved consumers, but that anticipation can be increased when the discounts are rare. For Glossier customers, Black Friday marks the only time of the year its beauty products are discounted. Dubbed the “Only Sale of the Year,” Glossier’s Black Friday campaign creates a sense of urgency and scarcity, encouraging shoppers to make the most of the annual event. 

Glossier’s website announces its only sale of the year for Black Friday
Glossier reminds shoppers that its Black Friday sale is the only sale it will be running.

Get ready for your best BFCM yet

Even though the strategies highlighted above are unique to each merchant, their ideas all share one thing in common: They run campaigns that resonate with their customers. Setting your goals and coming up with a unique Black Friday Cyber Monday approach is essential to connecting with your intended audience.

We hope these stories of creative Black Friday Cyber Monday campaigns will spark ideas for your own business. To help you prepare even more, check out the 27 things to check off your Black Friday Cyber Monday planning list and kick-start your 2023 plans.

Black friday campaigns FAQ

What is a Black Friday campaign?

A Black Friday campaign is a marketing strategy implemented by businesses to promote special offers, discounts, and deals on products or services during the Black Friday shopping period. It typically involves creating compelling advertisements, email marketing, Black Friday social media campaigns, and other tactics to attract customers and drive sales.

What makes a good Black Friday campaign?

A good Black Friday campaign should have several key elements:

  • Clear and compelling offers: The campaign should feature attractive discounts or exclusive deals that grab the attention of potential customers.
  • Creative and eye-catching visuals: High-quality images or videos that showcase the products or services being offered can help capture the interest of shoppers.
  • Effective marketing channels: Utilizing various marketing channels such as email, social media, and search ads can help reach a wider audience and maximize campaign visibility.
  • Limited-time offers: Creating a sense of urgency by setting a specific time frame for the campaign can encourage customers to make quick purchasing decisions.
  • Seamless user experience: Ensuring the purchasing process is smooth and user-friendly can help prevent cart abandonment and increase conversion rates.

How do you create a Black Friday campaign on Shopify?

To create a Black Friday campaign on Shopify, follow these steps:

  • Plan your offers: Determine the discounts or deals you want to offer during the campaign.
  • Design promotional materials: Create visually appealing banners, graphics, and product images to showcase your offers.
  • Set up discounts: Use Shopify’s discount feature to apply the Black Friday offers to specific products or collections.
  • Customize your store: Modify your store’s theme to reflect the Black Friday campaign, such as updating the homepage, adding countdown timers, or creating a dedicated Black Friday landing page.
  • Create urgency: Use apps or plug-ins to display limited-time offers, countdown timers, or stock availability to encourage customers to make purchases quickly.
  • Optimize checkout process: Ensure a seamless checkout experience by simplifying the process, offering multiple payment options, and providing clear shipping and return policies.
  • Promote your campaign: Utilize various marketing channels like email marketing, social media, and paid ads to reach your target audience and drive traffic to your Shopify store.

How do you promote Black Friday on social media?

To effectively promote Black Friday on social media, consider the following strategies:

  • Plan your content: Create a content calendar outlining the posts you will share leading up to and during the Black Friday period.
  • Tease your offers: Build anticipation by teasing your Black Friday deals in advance, creating excitement among your followers.
  • Use hashtags: Incorporate relevant hashtags like #BlackFriday, #Deals, or #Sale to increase the visibility of your posts and reach a wider audience.
  • Engage with your audience: Respond to comments, messages, and inquiries promptly to build trust and encourage interaction with your brand.
  • Run social media ads: Utilize paid advertising on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to target specific demographics and promote your Black Friday offers.
  • Collaborate with influencers: Partner with influencers or brand ambassadors to promote your Black Friday campaign to their followers, leveraging their influence and reach.
  • Create shareable content: Develop engaging and shareable content such as videos, infographics, or user-generated content that encourages your audience to spread the word about your Black Friday deals.

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