Every year, businesses and ad agencies sit down to devise the best marketing strategy to reach their audience, over what has now become the most crucial sales weekend of the year: that brief, frenzied period that kicks off with Black Friday and hurdles onward to Cyber Monday.
For an occasion that barely outlives a weekend, a whole lot is riding on a fleeting window of time to lure in customers with commercials that entice on the promise of one-time-only sales and special promotions. Advertisers and businesses that want to make the most of Black Friday fever and build commercials that convert ought to strategize. This includes pinpointing your target audience, carefully scheduling your ad rollout, and generating commercial content for both traditional (TV) and contemporary (digital video ad) channels.
Whether you’re creating commercials to advertise a big box store, an independent online marketplace, or any business in-between, there are some key considerations to take into account that will make or break your commercial campaign. Here, we’ve rounded up Black Friday and Cyber Monday commercials that fall under three key marketing strategies. Read on to discover which resonates with your brand.
Making a Commercial: 3 Key Storylines for Black Friday Marketing
According to the latest stats, most marketers believe the importance of video is on the rise, and 72% of consumers would rather learn about a new product through video than text.
When analyzing effective commercial ad campaigns, including this Black Friday roundup, it’s apparent that visuals and audio must work together when you want to create a powerful emotional response. Plus, placing a special focus on your ad’s audio elements also aids in achieving cross-platform versatility. Using a catchphrase, unique-sounding voice, or a catchy refrain can foster a distinct sonic tag for your campaign that translates smoothly from TV spots to radio ads to digital platforms. Equipping commercials with top-notch voice over allows them to explore creative visual avenues while establishing a consistent brand voice.
Here is a roundup of three storylines that you can leverage when making your commercial, complete with examples and an analysis of what makes them so effective as part of a Black Friday marketing strategy.
Commercial Storyline Example 1: The Black Friday Olympian Showdown
Black Friday has earned a reputation for being competitive to the point that hitting the mall is a physically demanding endeavor. Especially in the States, relentless customers, long lineups, and limited stock have propelled some shoppers to start camping overnight outside their store of choice.
While many marketers would be tempted to circumvent these negative aspects of the shopping season, some brands have chosen to lean into it as part of their marketing strategy. The following commercials show how powerful advertising can be when it focuses on re-branding the whole experience as a test of toughness and endurance. In doing so, marketers are able to play on themes of competition, survival of the fittest, and pride.
Here’s how Amazon and Target have showcased Black Friday as a fast-paced showdown that requires stamina and training.
Serving primarily as an online delivery service over the holiday season, Amazon is less concerned with showing off its top products than promoting its user experience. And while the online retailer may lack the option of tapping into the image of customers piling through a store entrance, they convey a similar sense of urgency in their 2015 TV spot by exhibiting a delivery person made up of boxes dashing toward the camera. To boot, the commercial is set to suspenseful music that feels pulled from an action-packed movie soundtrack. However, the ad really achieves its thrilling tone by way of the narrator.
Amazon chose a voice actor with heroic, sportscaster vocal qualities—qualities that are only amplified when he reads the high-stakes line: “Here it comes. The deal that called out to you from amongst thousands of others.” Lending the online shopping experience an epic, fateful air, the clever and well-executed setup here is that Amazon purchases literally race to your front door—not the other way around.
Unlike Amazon, Target has a physical space worth attracting their audiences to. So, in their 2010 Black Friday ad campaign, a Target storefront serves as the backdrop for an eager shopper’s training routine. Adding to the lore that Black Friday is an athletic affair, actress Maria Bamford is shown doing sit-ups and weightlifting with Target shopping baskets, backed by an ‘80s-style soundtrack reminiscent of the iconic Rocky training sequence.
The motivational voice over Target deploys provokes a competitive streak by asking the rhetorical question: “Are you ready?” Closing on a shot of Bamford dashing through the store’s aisles, the campaign drives home the amusing but not entirely untrue thesis that Black Friday is not for the faint of heart.
Commercial Storyline Example 2: Feel-Good, Traditional Approach
While likening Black Friday shopping to an Olympian showdown is one way to connect with your audience—especially those who welcome a challenge, there is merit in opting to take a more conventional route with your Black Friday marketing. These types of ads lean on themes of excitement, whimsy and cheer, and instead focus on the ‘feel good’ aspects of shopping.
The following are two strong examples of ads that created dynamic graphics to capture their viewer’s attention, while using traditional voice over to convey the main information.
In this lighthearted Black Friday promo courtesy of JCPenney, a rainbow of discount items bursts across the screen in a whimsical stop motion animation. It is left up to the enthusiastic, friendly voice over to relay the details behind each deal, which goes a long way to maintain a sense of cohesion in the midst of the moving clothing collage. All in all, it’s a short and sweet commercial that gets its point across.
Compared to JCPenney’s offering, this 30-second clip is an even more pared-down, DIY take on the stop motion animation. McLendon Hardware may not be as identifiable of a brand as JCPenney, so they had their work cut out for them. The Washington state hardware chain went out on a limb and chose not to showcase any in-store products, instead matching an easily customizable Christmas display with a comedic voice over script. The narrator’s voice is goofy and humorous, allowing it to steal the show from the minimalist visual scene.
Commercial Storyline Example 3: Weaving Holiday Iconography Into Your Black Friday and Cyber Monday Ads
The weekend of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is bordered by Thanksgiving and the first days of December, which means that, for a lot of people, the shopping extravaganza officially kicks off the mad countdown to Christmas morning. By positioning Black Friday as a springboard for the holidays, marketers can benefit from merging their consumer-driven ad campaigns with familiar seasonal iconography. This can function both as a method to urge customers to begin their shopping hauls early, while lending Black Friday some sentiment and heart that will hopefully overshadow its hectic nature.
One way to get your campaign to stand apart from the rest, of course, is to populate your ad with celebrities—and when you’re a colossal corporation like Macy’s, chances are you have the budget and clout to do so. With their 2015 Black Friday TV spot, Macy’s rounded up the likes of Ariana Grande, Heidi Klum, Jessica Simpson, Martha Stewart, and Thalia, who are all featured in a series of split-second, Thanksgiving- or Christmas-themed vignettes throughout the department store.
Ryan Seacrest, playing himself as an exuberant announcer who rapidly fires off a list of incentives to come into the store, binds the whole ad together—or, at least, his voice does. “Only Macy’s could give America a parade on Thanksgiving and the biggest sale of the year on Black Friday,” he boasts, elevating the brand’s status as an entity for whom multitasking breaks no sweat. Hiring a widely recognizable celebrity voice serves the purpose of aligning Macy’s with splendor and cultural relevance—traits any brand could use to be associated with.
Xmas decor store Balsam Hill went for a classic slant with their 2017 Black Friday advert highlighting their inventory of artificial Christmas trees. Using a calm and affable voice over, the commercial exhibits various families coming together and basking in the glow of their gorgeously decorated Christmas trees. Going with a traditional voice over was an appropriate fit for this commercial because it was meant to speak to the broadest age range possible, from the children to their grandparents pictured celebrating the holidays with one another. In some cases, simplicity and traditional family values are exactly what best depict your brand’s spirit.
This four-act Cyber Monday digital ad was produced as a parody of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and published in multiple parts as a Twitter Moment with the slick tagline: “Become a #TotalBoss this Cyber Monday with Total Wireless.” The campaign’s premise plays with the contrast between online shopping and stepping foot in a physical store to purchase a wireless plan—a wittily conceived concept for a Cyber Monday commercial.
In the style of the Dickens classic, the voice over wielded here takes after the smooth, wise storyteller archetype. The creative team penned their own script in rhyming verse to emulate the perennial Christmas narrative voice. In sum, the ad makes a compelling and hysterical argument for taking advantage of Cyber Monday deals, lest one’s family end up showered in gifts that are nothing more than, well, pathetic.
So, How do I Select the Best Approach for my Black Friday or Cyber Monday Ad Campaign?
You might decide to riff off of the adrenaline rush that Black Friday brings and cast a sportscaster-like voice. Alternately, you may opt for flashy visuals to captivate your viewers while using a professional or friendly voice over in order to underscore the big deals your business is offering. Or, your brand may even try appealing to your key demographic by figuratively donning its jolliest holiday sweater and marrying the pandemonium of Black Friday with the merriment of the holidays—an avenue that could lead to hiring a conversational, immature, celebrity, or holiday-style voice—all depending on your market.
At the end of the day, the marketing strategies behind the commercials that we broke down in this article are but a few of those that can be applied to reach your target audience and boost your sales volume during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend.
When you’re mapping out your ad campaign, you’ll probably want to consider the following:
- What core values does your brand possess that you hope to get across?
- Do you want to stress the urgency of scoring Black Friday deals via messaging that prompts your customers to race out their front doors, or would you rather elevate the meaning of the occasion with seasonal nostalgia?
- Does your ad align with a conventional vision of the holidays, or are you appealing to a discerning audience that will appreciate your satirical take on the season?
- Are you hiring a recognizable celebrity voice to emcee your ad, or a comedic voice to bring a talking can of cranberry sauce to life?
Posing these questions repeatedly throughout the ad production process can be an ideal way to stay on track and ultimately put out a commercial that flawlessly articulates your brand voice.
Which style of Black Friday or Cyber Monday ad campaign aligns with your brand story, and what voice do you think you’ll decide to hire to perfect your project? Can you come up with some successful Black Friday adverts that we excluded from this roundup? Let us know in the comments below!