While it's a far cry in significance from the effort most brands put into their Super Bowl ads, luring customers on Black Friday is fast becoming a marketing staple. Here's a look at the top four campaigns I've seen this year:
Honorable Mention: Macy's Beliebers
Truth is, I hate giving credit to anything that features Justin Bieber. But you can't deny his star power among pre-adolescent girls, and apparently, among the over-30 female set. That's the smarts in this campaign. Macy's appears to have done its homework and is using a celeb that appeals to people in Gen X and Gen Y - both of which will make up the heart of the Black Friday shopper demo.
Extra style points for taking over the top third of YouTube to promote its sale as well.
Buzz-worthy: JCPenney Foursquare
If nothing else, shopping is a social experience. At least one retailer is acting on that insight and doing good at the same time. For every Foursquare check-in made at a JCPenney location on Black Friday, the company will donate $25 to the Salvation Army. The brand will score major points for doing social good, and will definitely see positive conversations about them in the social space. And that will be a welcome change from this past summer.
Funny, But Not in the 'Ha-ha' Way: Target's Crazy Woman
It's probably the most well-known Black Friday campaign: The woman in the red jogging suit, known as "Christmas Champ," cross training to prep for Target's sale. The campaign is in its third year and is creeping out people in record numbers. Worth the read is this analysis from Adweek.
New this year is a Twitter account of tweets ostensibly from our platinum blonde bargain hunter, @ChristmasChamp. It's worth the follow for the humor, and credit for Target for embracing the character full-on and extending the campaign into social.
Best in Show: Wal Mart
For me, the best campaign is the series of a half-dozen or so 15-second spots supporting Wal Mart's Black Friday sales. The brevity of each allows the ads to conclude before the audience is annoyed. And while none are knee-slappingly hilarious, this ad titled "Hand Cramp" deserves credit for working hard to deliver a message reminding people of Cyber Monday (or Cyber Week), the traditional start of the online shopping season.
Worst Idea Ever: Kohl's
I'm struggling to analogize the campaign Kohl's is undertaking featuring the most annoying song of the millenium to date. Incorporating Rebecca Black's "Friday" into a song about your Black Friday sale may have made sense in the oxygen-deprived board room where the idea was spawned ("Rebecca...Black... Friday. Get it?"), but the advertising world is now worse for having to endure this:
What do you think? Any campaigns I did not include, but should have? Do you have anything to add? Please leave a note in the comments below.
And from my house to yours, Happy Thanksgiving, and happy shopping!