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Top anti-Black Friday campaigns: Patagonia, Allbirds & more reject consumerism

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By Rebecca Stewart | Trends Editor

November 27, 2020 | 6 min read

This year, a cohort of brands are eschewing Black Friday and rejecting the hyper-consumerism of the annual bargain bonanza to instead highlight the climate crisis and offer social commentary. Here, The Drum explores the best creative responses to the growing anti-Black Friday movement.

Ah, Black Friday. Each year it rolls around, bringing with it bumper sales from retailers, seemingly unmissable discounts from big brands and images of people fighting over TVs in Walmart and Asda.

However, in 2020 the annual pre-Christmas bargain bonanza looks a little different. With growing concerns about brands' role in the climate crisis and the impact of hyper-consumerism, some advertisers are rejecting the retail holiday entirely and asking customers not to spend money with them.

Anti-black friday round-up - buy more rubbish

Public Fibre is combating the wasteful nature of Black Friday with its 'Buy More Rubbish' campaign

Scroll down to take a look at the best anti-Black Friday campaigns, which are seeing brands harness the power of marketing to make a different kind of impact this season.

Public Fibre 'Buy More Rubbish'

Public Fibre: Buy More Rubbish by Public Fibre

By Public Fibre

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Sustainable London-based fashion and lifestyle brand Public Fibre is looking to combat the wasteful nature of Black Friday with its 'Buy More Rubbish' campaign.

The anti-consumerist initiative aims to get people spending our money on the top 10 ocean polluters, and will be raising money and awareness for The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit group developing advanced technologies to rid the oceans of plastic.

GiffGaff 'Check Your Drawers'

giffgaff and LADbible: Check Your Drawers by Havas Media & JUMP

By giffgaff

Overall Rating 4/5

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Mobile carrier GiffGaff is urging the public to ‘Check Your Drawers’ this Black Friday, in a unique campaign that actually discourages wasteful consumption.

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The provider is looking to get millions thinking more about creating a circular economy in mobiles and serves as a highly unusual message in one of the most notorious periods of consumer excess.

Patagonia 'Buy Less, Demand More'

Patagonia: Buy Less, Demand More' by Patagonia

By Patagonia

Overall Rating 5/5

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In 2011, Patagonia took an stand against Black Friday consumerism with a bold New York Times ad carrying the phrase, 'Don’t Buy This Jacket'.

This Black Friday, Patagonia is encouraging another mental shift with the launch of 'Buy Less, Demand More', a circular economy initiative which heralds the next phase in the company's evolution including integrating its four-year-old Worn Wear program for used clothing and gear.

Now when customers browse for a new fleece or a pair of running tights on the Patagonia website, they’ll see a button that links to refurbished alternatives on the trade-in platform at a lower price.

The brand has produced several print ads to hammer home the ethos, it's also produced a short film explaining the thinking behind its Black Friday rejection.

Allbirds 'Break tradition, not the planet'

Allbirds: Allbirds by Allbirds

By Allbirds

Overall Rating 4/5

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Opting for a Green Friday instead of Black Friday approach, sustainable accessories and footwear brand Allbirds is flipping tradition and is calling for consumers to ‘Break tradition, not the planet’.

Instead of slashing prices, Allbirds will be raising them and doubling its commitment to sustainability.

On Black Friday, all prices across its entire collection will increase by £1 and be matched by £1 by the brand, with the additional proceeds going directly to Fridays For Future, the youth-led international climate movement founded by climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Deciem 'Bye Bye Black Friday, Hello Knowvember'

Deciem: 'Bye Bye Black Friday, Hello Knowvember' by Deciem

By Deciem

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Taking its Black Friday boycott into a second year, The Ordinary’s parent company Deciem is taking a leaf out of Patagonia's book.

The Canadian beauty announced on Sunday its boycott of Black Friday for the second year in a row, shutting down all physical stores and e-commerce for the day.

As with last year, Deciem is making everything on the site 23% off for the month of November, as an alternative. It's also christening the month 'Knowvember' to raise awareness of the climate crisis.

Black Friday is “something that’s not working for our planet, because it’s just promoting hyper-consumerism rather than people actually buying what they want,” said Deciem co-founder and chief executive Nicola Kilner.

“The reality is that if you wouldn’t pay full price for it, it’s probably not something that you truly did need in the first place.”

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