Chapter 17 Target Keeps it Simple with Their Black Friday Catalog Focusing on Price

/ 1 min read

target black friday catalog

Photo: Black Friday Archive

The day after Thanksgiving has marked the beginning of the holiday retail season since 1932.

On what is now known as Black Friday, retailers in the U.S. – and increasingly in other countries – open early, or even during the night, to offer shoppers significant price cuts on goods ahead of Christmas.

The advertisement produced by retailer Target in 2004 is inherently simple, and similar in design to ads produced by rivals.

On a red background – both festive and referential to Target’s branding – unrelated products from plush teddies to electronics or a Christmas tree are presented alongside their regular price, and the sale price in larger font.

The Target campaign comes in the form of a short booklet,  starting at 28 pages long in 2004 and growing to 40 pages in 2015.

Aside from differences in length and the range of products advertised, the campaign has remained relatively unchanged, employing the same branded color scheme and picture-price format from previous years.

The eye-catching headlines on each page similarly repeat the same slogans – “lowest prices ever” or “2 day sale,” etc.

This format has duly become the target of “trolls” who satirize both the presentation of the ad and the lack of cohesion between products contained therein.


Photo: Raining Hot Coupons

Naturally, the contents of the campaign are not particularly memorable, consisting of numerous pages of disconnected goods and their prices.

However, the lack of innovation or memorability has not impacted the effective repetition of the campaign each year.

The release of Black Friday catalogues has become an anticipated event in itself, with some retailers even threatening legal action against websites leaking such material early.

Blooming into something of a national event, customers are well aware when it is Black Friday — and similarly that every major retailer is offering significant sales for the event.

The campaign therefore only needs to convince customers that Target’s prices are lower than competitors’; the brochure format assists in this by presenting a large range of products with their prices to attract a broad customer base to the store.

Simple Not Cliched

Target does a fantastic job of blending branding with advertising during the holiday season.

Key seasonal products and promotions are tastefully presented as part of advertising campaigns that are cohesive, on brand, and avoid falling into the typical holiday cliches (playing to specific traditions or tropes, being too sappy, etc).

– Jordan Brannon, President, Coalition Technologies

Holiday Marketing Takeaway

Make sure your customers know that you can offer the best prices on Black Friday or similar shopping events.

Table of Contents

Intro150 Years of the Best Holiday Campaigns
Chapter 2 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Brings Spectacle to the Season
Chapter 3 How Coca-Cola Invented The Father of Christmas (Or did they?)
Chapter 4 Budweiser Celebrates the End to Prohibition
Chapter 5 Montgomery Ward Employee Invents Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Chapter 6 Campbell’s Soup Speaks to the ’50s Housewife
Chapter 7 Mr. Potato Head Becomes First Toy Ever Televised
Chapter 8 NORAD Tracks Santa’s Journey Around the World
Chapter 9 Norelco Popularizes Stop-Motion Animation
Chapter 10 Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas? Why You’ll Eat KFC in Japan
Chapter 11 Folgers Advertises the Intangible
Chapter 12 Hershey’s Holiday Bells Defy an Ad Agency
Chapter 13 Coca-Cola’s Polar Bears Humanize Global Warming
Chapter 14 Coca-Cola’s Christmas Fleet Brings Truckloads of Cheer
Chapter 15 M&M’s Stumble Upon Santa –– No One is Left Standing
Chapter 16 Starbucks Red Cups Spark Consumer Salivating (and Controversy)
Chapter 17 Target Keeps it Simple with Their Black Friday Catalog Focusing on Price
Chapter 18 Pampers Silent Night Raises $40 Million for Charity
Chapter 19 Give a Garmin Hits on Travel, Humor and Holiday Stress
Chapter 21 Macy’s Believe Campaign Raises $10 Million, Involves Schools
Chapter 22 American Express Small Business Saturday Supports Local
Chapter 24 REI’s #OptOutside Campaign Bucks Tradition
Chapter 25 Amazon’s “Give a Little Bit” Campaign Gives a Lot
Chapter 26 Spotify’s 2017 “#2018Goals” Campaign Speaks Loudly
Chapter 27 Google Home’s 2018 Alone Again with Google Assistant Campaign is the Ultimate Nostalgia


Kunle Campbell

Kunle is a trusted advisor to ambitious, agile ecommerce brands. His core strengths lies in growing revenue by developing and executing scalable customer acquisition and search marketing strategies for online retailers.  He blogs, runs webinars and teach courses about ecommerce growth on He also hosts an ecommerce podcast dedicated to growing and scaling online retail businesses.

View all posts by Kunle Campbell

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