How Some Brands Are Taking the Gloom Out of Black Friday

Black_Friday

Black_FridayLove it or hate it, Black Friday is right around the corner. The often-criticized shopping extravaganza continues to dominate the month of November by assaulting consumers with a bevy of special deals. As Thanksgiving gets closer, companies screaming about their Black Friday prices form a chorus of cacophony.

PR pros know all about dealing with noise. When communicating is what you do, separating your brand or client’s voice from the babble is part of the job description. But when communication efforts around this time of year mostly boil down to shouting about a low price, a few companies have found unique ways to forgo the madness. Some even leave Black Friday behind altogether.

REI

The outdoor retailer and nation’s largest consumer co-op is closing its doors on Black Friday and giving its 12,000 employees a paid day off. The company is also encouraging its employees and customers to spend the day outside with the #OptOutside campaign, which, according to the company, already has more than 150 other companies, nonprofits and agencies supporting the cause. A few state and national parks are also offering free passes on Black Friday.

Android Pay

Google’s NFC payment system for Android devices started its Black Friday effort early this year. But unlike the other retailers looking to cash in on the shopping phenomenon, Android Pay teamed up with Google.org—Google’s charitable arm—to donate $1 to charity for every purchase made between Nov. 24 and Dec. 31. But there’s a special deal on Black Friday: Android Pay is doubling down by donating $2 for every purchase on Nov. 27. The money will be donated to DonorsChoose.org, a charity that helps classrooms attain out-of-reach goals. Android Pay’s drive will be specifically focused on donating to special needs projects this year.

Everlane

Perhaps most in the spirit of Thanksgiving, Everlane won’t be having any sales or special promotions on Black Friday. Instead, the online clothing retailer will sell its items for what it considers a fair value and then use all of the profits to help the workers in its Los Angeles factory. Everlane hopes to raise $100,000 on Nov. 27 to create a new wellness program for factory workers that will offer on-site healthcare, free groceries and English classes to employees. Last year, the company raised enough money on Black Friday to buy solar panels for workers’ on-campus apartments at a silk factory it works with in Hangzhou, China.

All of the above businesses are putting value in something other than their profits this weekend. Coupled with that fact that all of these efforts are in line with each company’s mission—enjoying the outdoors, don’t be evil and radical transparency, respectively—these efforts are sure to entrench positive sentiment with consumers during the typically frustrating and demoralizing experience of Black Friday.

Follow Mark: @MarkRenfree