Agencies Help Chicago Turn Black Friday Into Black Shop Friday

OKRP and Geletka sought to turn the traditional post-Thanksgiving shopping period into a call-to-action to support Black-owned businesses

Black Shop Friday

A City of Chicago ad campaign is putting special emphasis on “Black” in promoting this year’s Black Friday.

The city, in an alliance with the local Urban League, has tapped independent agency O’Keefe Reinhard and Paul and fellow Chicago-based shop Geletka to turn Black Friday into Black Shop Friday. The effort is intended to boost Black-owned businesses in the Chicago area on the day after Thanksgiving, which is typically the busiest in-store shopping day of the year.

“Everyone needs to discover the wide array of offerings from Black-owned businesses and to invest their shopping dollars to support this community,” Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, who appeared in a “Stay Home, Save Lives” social distancing PSA campaign from Havas Chicago this spring, said in a statement. “Supporting our small business community has been a priority of mine even before becoming Mayor, and I am committed to working with all the partners on this new shopping holiday to make this a huge success.”

The campaign begins today with a series of ads across OOH, digital and social channels. A dedicated BlackShopFriday.com site promoting 500 Black-owned businesses in Chicago launches on November 24 and will updated on an ongoing basis.

“After the killing of George Floyd and this summer of social unrest, we wanted to find ways to support Black communities in tangible ways. The insight that drove us was that we believe people want do more than just voice support, but often don’t what how, beyond social media hashtags,” OKRP chief operating officer Rahul Roy told Adweek.

With a focus on the mission of supporting local Black businesses, the agency created the concept of transforming the traditional post-Thanksgiving shopping holiday with a call-to-action to inspire people to make Black-owned business among those they shop with this year, Roy explained. OKRP then brought on board partners to curate the website and build up a campaign showing audiences where to locate Black-owned business, both online and in person.

“OKRP believes in actively partnering with specialized outside “agents” that can complement our skills,” Roy said, explaining that the agency knew and respected the work of Geletka and its founder – and had already been looking for a project on which to partner. Geletka provided “back-end expertise” OKRP didn’t have in-house, according to Roy, with both agencies contributing their services pro-bono in building up the campaign website.

“We are incredibly proud to partner with top strategic and creative minds in Chicago to make a difference in the community we love so much,” John Geletka said in a statement. “We really believe BlackShopFriday.com will help everyone in Chicago discover and support the amazing Black-owned businesses that not just fuel our great city, but that make it a great city.”

OKRP, which made the list of Adweek’s Fastest Growing Agencies in 2019, worked with Chicago photographer Parrish Lewis on creative assets for the campaign. The ads used a Martin typeface created by designer Tré Seals inspired by posters used during the Memphis Sanitation Strike of 1968.

The agencies brought the idea to client Camelot, the private manager for the Illinois Lottery. Camelot donated paid media in select digital and social media outlets, as well as prominent OOH placement in the Chicago market. Illinois Lottery is a client of OKRP, for which the agency created a mask-themed “You Can’t Hide Winning” campaign back in August.

OKRP’s and Geletka’s effort to drive local awareness of Black Shop Friday is getting additional lift from global communications firm Edelman. The public relations firm has also been tapped by the Chicago Urban League and the city to create an earned media program in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, which falls on Nov. 27 this year.


@ErikDOster erik.oster@adweek.com Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.
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