Emails We Love: Pre-Black Friday Special

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas—because my inbox is bulging at the seams with offers for Black Friday. Here's a round-up of some that caught my eye.

JC Penney is hoping that families have shook off their tryptophan comas the day after Thanksgiving, not only to shop but to have holiday portraits taken. The retailer chimes in with an "it only happens once a year" subject line to alert me that I can get a full session CD of my photo shoot's pictures for $49 ($100 off) if we get photographed on Black Friday.

While I see the logic (kids are out of school and folks who don't work in retail may have the day off), it's hard to make my kids dress nicely two days in a row, let alone smile about it. So we'll pass, thanks.

Clinique's Black Friday strategy was to fully acknowledge that its customers might be a little worse for wear after a daylong food bender, and give them a little assistance to look better as they race to the malls before the sun comes up this Friday. Last week, they offered a bonus gift of a "Black Friday Survival Kit," including lip balm, mascara and eye serum, with online purchases.

Hot Topic's Monday morning pre-Black Friday email reminds me once again that yes, I am old. The trendy retailer's "It's not what we want…." tying into the inside headline "It's what YOU want. It's the season. Speak Up." is clever, but the dripping white spray paint on the the black background with fuzzed out red and green graphics looks more horror movie-ish than December seasonal to these middle-aged eyes. (I know, I'm not hip. But I will admit some of the Grrrl Gifts look cute.)

Sears' pre-Black Friday sale email is basic and straightforward—and probably exactly what the core Sears customer wants. There's lots of electronics deals offered, and the chance to enter a photo contest to win a new camera. A banner promised that these items won't be priced lower this week, which is nice for price sensitive shoppers looking for the best bargains to know.

Living Social is encouraging users to buy gifts through the service–if they spend $25, the giver gets a $10 voucher to spend on themselves. The gifts plugged in the email are a little pricier than I normally give or get (although I wouldn't turn down 6 days in London), but it's the thought that counts–even if they inspire someone to treat themselves.

Bass Shoes doesn't reference Black Friday specifically in its Tuesday before Turkey Day email, but it does effectively get through the clutter with clever copy and simple animation. "Our holiday sale is here. Step on it." reads the headline above a pair of feet propped on, well, something. I can't tell quite what in the photo. Next to the picture is a 25% off site-wide banner resembling a "do not disturb" hotel door sign, swaying gently back and forth. It's a simple bit of flash, but it does draw in the eye, and one hopes, the clicks.

Orvis also eschews the Black Friday lingo, instead asking readers to "Let the Stars Do the Talking"—the stars in question being those that rank the etailer's top-rated pet items.    "Orvis customers tell it like it is," the email bosts of the top-ranked Memory Foam Dog Bed. "Shop all top-rated dog products now and see what our customers (and their dogs) have to say!" Given how social dogs (and their owners) can be, promoting user-contributed reviews is a good move.

What Black Friday emails inspired you to shop? Let me know at


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