Like millions of other people last Friday, I couldn't help but pop online to scope out the sales at a few of my favorite retailers. I've been a fan of Everlane for its blend of quality wardrobe basics and fair manufacturing practices for a while now, so I wasn't surprised by the awesome Black Friday campaign that they executed.
Read on for a brief rundown of what I think made this such brilliant brand marketing.
First things first, you'll notice, this was not a sale. Like last year, Everlane took the contrarian approach and made Black Friday a day about giving, not getting.
A few retailers made headlines this year for eschewing trading on Black Friday to take a stand against holiday consumerism. What I loved about Everlane's campaign is that it didn't preach to consumers or make them feel bad for embracing holiday shopping. Instead, it respected its customers with an initiative that was completely brand-aligned.
Everlane's anti-sale was the Black Friday Fund -- an initiative benefitting the workers at its t-shirt factory in the heart of L.A.
Everlane donated 35% of every Black Friday purchase to be able to offer on-site healthcare, free groceries, and English classes to its factory workers.
What I loved about the Black Friday Fund was that it reflected the needs and wishes of Everlane's craftspeople. No prescriptive solutions here. Just real things to make a difference in real people's lives.
To personalize the campaign further, Everlane featured a fun vignette spotlighting the quirks, likes, dislikes, and personalities of a few of their workers.
Pretty cool, huh?
So what made this campaign work? Here's my take...
3 Reasons I Think Everlane's Black Friday Campaign Was Brilliant
1. Reinforced brand positioning
You don't have to be on the Everlane site for long, before you figure out the brand stands for fair manufacturing and radical transparency.
The Black Friday Fund enhanced Everlane's positioning by reinforcing its reputation as an ethical manufacturer and caring employer. In an industry that has been scrutinized for its dicey record on employee health and opaque manufacturing practices, this is a very compelling proposition for socially conscious, millennial shoppers. Bonus: the campaign invited customers into the brand story by giving us an opportunity to use our purchasing power to do good too.
By forgoing a sale and doing the opposite of what its competitors did [Gap, Madewell, J. Crew, etc], Everlane powerfully differentiated itself not by its products, but by what it stands for.
Everlane can't be profitable and stay true to its values, whilst competing with the likes of Gap on price. Because of its transparent mark-ups, there just isn't a lot of margin for bargain bin sales.
Their advantage is ethos and value for money, and this is exactly how the Black Friday Fund differentiated Everlane. Instead of a sale, which shouts "our markups are so astronomical that we can afford to slash prices by 50%," the campaign's subliminal message was, "we treat our customers and employees fairly year-round."
The rewards of this approach are obvious: Everlane retained the integrity of its brand [ethical, attainable, premium] and competed on what it new it could win.
Everlane's Black Friday strategy culminated in really solid execution.
In keeping with the brand's aesthetic -- modern, minimalist, quality -- the Black Friday Fund story telling was straightforward, poignant, and transparent.
Pictures of the factory, employee stories, a breakdown of how the funds would be allocated, and a realtime fundraising graphic animated the simple, yet bold copywriting.
All the elements aligned to form a story that was poignant, humble, and cooly restrained.