Trending: Anti-Black Friday and Cyber Monday Marketing

Did you survive the biggest shopping weekend of the year?! While our wallets crave payday after the onslaught of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and steals, it’s retailers’ inventive marketing that really piqued our interest.

Surprisingly, retailers’ clever subject lines or design isn’t what caught our eye – it was the missing promotion. When inboxes are overloaded with holiday shopping deals, does skipping a promotion altogether differentiate brands?

We’re investigating the “anti-Black Friday/Cyber Monday” crew in today’s email roundup.


Starting in 2015, REI bucked trends and turned out the lights on Black Friday with their #OptOutside campaign.

REI, an outdoors adventure retailer, closed their stores, gave their employees a paid holiday, and encouraged others to go outside on Black Friday with friends and family, instead of duking it out at the mall.

This campaign not only aligns with REI’s mission, but sets them apart from the myriad of other retailers vying for your attention during the holidays.

REI #optoutside


Everlane is an apparel and accessories company known for “radically transparent,” sustainable practices and pricing.

This Cyber Monday, they sent an email with the subject line: No Sale Today. Here’s Why. Inside messaging explained that their standard practice of not marking up products means they provide savings all year long and will not conform to Cyber Monday gimmicks.

Everlane Cyber Monday

Cards Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity is a card game “for horrible people” (a twisted, but often hilarious adult version of the card game Apples to Apples). Cards Against Humanity’s makers are known for pushing the envelope with product campaigns and being vocal about their political leanings.

Last Black Friday, Cards Against Humanity sent an email inviting customers to give them $5 to receive nothing in return (yes, I laughed typing this). As it turns out, a lot of people gave them $5, and in some cases, more than $5. They kept the money and shared the breakdown of how their employees used the cash. See for yourself.

Cards Against Humanity Black Friday

The anti-Black Friday/Cyber Monday Movement

After seeing how retailers turned Black Friday and Cyber Monday on their heads, should your brand try a similar strategy next year?

If your mission and branding align with something radical, different, or snarky, this may be a good idea to cut through your customers’ inbox clutter.

Have you seen any other examples not mentioned here? Share in the comments section!