Brands everywhere are putting up lights and tinsel, promoting their holiday gift ideas on social media, and changing their logos to festive holiday colors. They're getting ready for Black Friday and advertising online deals for Cyber Monday. Instead of focusing on those brands, I took a look at how some brands are bucking tradition with their holiday marketing.
Amazon has abandoned the notion of Black Friday as a single day, and is now promoting early deals as a countdown to "Black Friday Week." This move keeps consumers interested with fresh deals and the intention of daily return visits. Turning Black Friday into a week long event puts the pressure on other brands to keep up with Amazon's deals.
Unlike the vast majority of other large department stores, Nordstrom is not decorating their stores until Friday, November 27, the day after Thanksgiving. While this policy is not new - the brand has done this for years - it went viral this year. Nordstrom received widespread praise from consumers for avoiding the "Christmas Creep." In turn, many news outlets covered the brand's decorating decision, giving them a boost in press that most other department stores aren't seeing.
The Red Cup Saga of 2015 has largely blown over, but the 2015 design unexpectedly cemented the cultural relevance of Starbucks' holiday cup. This year, the coffee brand released a simple ombre design for their holiday cup, instead of featuring more typical holiday images like poinsettias or snowflakes. While some people responded negatively to the apparent lack of holiday imagery, the brand dominated news coverage for a solid week and earned many sympathizers. It's unlikely Starbucks anticipated the level of drama, but it certainly won't do damage in the long run and demonstrated that the holiday cup is a worthwhile annual tradition for the brand.
REI has decided to not partake in Black Friday. The brand will postpone digital orders and close its 143 stores on Friday, November 27. REI used the hashtag #OptOutside to encourage its customers to spend time outside rather than standing in long Black Friday lines. The move makes sense for an outdoors apparel company and stays true to their brand. Taking such a bold stance helps the brand differentiate among the thousands of companies participating in Black Friday, and what's more, has garnered positive feedback from consumers and the press.
This year was one of breaking from tradition in holiday marketing. Brands that did so appear to be doing well thus far. There's still plenty of time left in the holiday shopping season, so other brands may jump on the unorthodox bandwagon.