Traditionally, Black Friday is a day for consumers to spend mad amounts of money on discounted wares. More and more in recent years, there are videos and phone captures of in-store fights, parking lot brawls, and general retail unpleasantness. But one company decided that there had to be a
better different way. Cards Against Humanity, everyone’s favourite “party game for horrible people,” has spent the past three Black Fridays requesting that their customers pay a price increase or donate their money to the game’s creators. Though this is a clearly unconventional request, their customers passionately and quickly respond, giving their funds freely. Let’s look at how a start-up has not only turned their consumers into passionate product advocates, but also into willing financial contributors who receive little, if not nothing, in return.
Black Friday, 2014. Cards Against Humanity (CAH) bucked the trend and increased the price of their game box by $5. That year, they also sold literal bull feces to 30,000 people. This brought in $180,000. Black Friday, 2015. The company asked people to send them $5. They received nothing in return. This brought in a total of $71,145. Black Friday, 2016: the year of the holiday hole. $100,573 was donated by passionate customers to have an excavator dig a hole in an unknown location somewhere in the United States. The dig was then broadcast via live stream, and was picked up by news agencies across North America, if not globally.
Let’s be clear – these donations are not going to charity, these are not funding feel-good-projects. These activities have the sole purpose of being a commentary on the current state of Black Friday. “We all really hate Black Friday, it’s just kind of a horrible day,” says game co-creator Max Temkin. “It comes after this day where you’re supposed to be thankful for what you have, and then it’s just this whole huge media spectacle of people fighting each other to save $50 on a TV.” In a time where organizations are turning to giveaways, contests, or traditional promotions in order to engage customers, CAH is doing the complete opposite in order to continue engaging their devotees.
What the CAH team has managed to do is to recognize that their engagement with consumers must exist in both the physical and digital worlds in order to be successful. And as they produce an irreverent, casual, and “horrible” product, their digital engagement must match. Their contributors are often receiving nothing in return (they once received actual poop!) and they continue to passionately follow the company and embrace the brand. What they receive from their financial donations is a matter of belonging. True, there are those who donated because they find these things to be “stunts” or hilarious. But the contributors are now part of a dedicated group who embrace the CAH culture and are members of an elite club of devotees. They are part of a movement commenting on the state of our world and our consumerism. They are a group with a voice.
Lessons for Others
Traditional consumer engagement will continue to work, but likely with those who will be considered social media laggards, those not up on the current trends. As consumers become more and more social media savvy, organizations will need to continue to evolve the ways in which they interact with their targets. Prizing, giveaways and contests will work, but the organizations that will continue to see success as the customer’s social media expertise matures will be those that think creatively, create a sense of belonging, and demonstrate brand authenticity. Cards Against Humanity has chosen to embrace all of these elements in order to continue to engage differently on social media, and it continues to pay off. They have proven that different is good, and that you can be successful on Black Friday without selling a thing.
Cards Against Humanity
Name of Organization Contact: none
Authored by: Donna Alexander
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
Stampler, L. (2014, December 15). Http://time.com/3634443/cards-against-humanity-poop-black-friday/. Time Newsfeed: Why This Company Sent Poop to 30,000 People for Black Friday. Retrieved February 20, 2017, from http://time.com/3634443/cards-against-humanity-poop-black-friday/
(2016, November ). The Cards Against Humanity Holiday Hole. Retrieved February 20, 2017, from https://holidayhole.com/
C.A.H. (2015, ). Untitled. Retrieved February 20, 2017, from https://cardsagainsthumanity.com/blackfriday/
C.A.H. (n.d.). Cards Against Humanity. Retrieved February 20, 2017, from https://cardsagainsthumanity.com/
Lagorio-Chafkin, C. (2014, January 6). Inc. | Wire. The Humans Behind Cards Against Humanity. Retrieved February 20, 2017, from http://www.inc.com/christine-lagorio/humans-behind-cards-against-humanity.html