Chicago turns Black Friday into Black Shop Friday

The Chicago Urban League in partnership with the City of Chicago and Chicago agency O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul, joined together to announce the launch of Black Shop Friday, a new program encouraging Chicagoans to shop at Black-owned businesses on the day after Thanksgiving, November 27th – widely known as “Black Friday.” 

A new website will offer a guide to over 500 black-owned local businesses. It will be updated on an ongoing basis and allows consumers to search by category and/or neighborhood to find the merchandise and gifts they are looking for this holiday season. 

In commenting on the creation of the concept, Aubrey Walker, Executive Creative Director at OKRP said, “Black Friday has been around for a long time, but what has been missing is the Blackness. As we began thinking about things we could do to address racial inequities we were inspired by other programs that support the idea of shopping at black-owned businesses. We saw a way to add to that concept by flipping Black Friday into Black Shop Friday and asking people to add one black owned business to their shopping cart and buy something really dope that supports the black business community.”

Black Shop Friday will be supported by a wide range of marketing, advertising and activations. Ads shot on location at Chicago-based companies will be shared beginning November 17 through social media channels and donated media outlets featuring such stores as Semicolon Bookstore, Color Me Beauty Bar,  Momentum Coffee, Agriculture Men’s Wear, and Roasted Leaf Cigar and Coffee Bar, among others.

“We know that Black-owned businesses have less access to capital and other resources needed to be successful,” said President & CEO Karen Freeman-Wilson. “Black Shop Friday is an important campaign to raise awareness of these challenges, while also providing a mechanism for people who want to be intentional about supporting black businesses.”

In its 2019 State of Black Chicago Report, the Chicago Urban League highlighted U.S. Census data that showed Black-owned businesses in Illinois have smaller sales receipts and fewer employees than other businesses — contributing to a racial wealth gap that impacts Chicago communities. The goal of Black Shop Friday is to help narrow the wealth gap and strengthen neighborhoods across the city. 

Nikki Bravo, Co-Founder of Momentum Coffee & Coworking said, “I’m thankful for the increased support for my business, and other amazing Black-owned businesses in the Chicago area. We hope that Black Shop Friday and similar efforts will continue to highlight the businesses that truly help our communities thrive.”

OKRP developed Black Shop Friday and then brought together the City of Chicago, the Urban League of Chicago, its client Camelot (the private manager for the Illinois Lottery) and communications firm Edelman, to bring the idea to life. The launch fits into the Mayor’s new initiative, By Chicago, For Chicago – a commitment to dedicate a percentage of all hours worked towards non-profit, social and cultural organizations and City agencies. 

“Supporting Chicago’s small businesses has been a priority of mine since even before taking office,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “This inspiring partnership allows Chicagoans to discover the hundreds of Black-owned businesses in our city, driving the investment dollars that are needed now more than ever, and giving everyone a chance to make this new shopping holiday a huge success.” 

Merchandise giveaways promoting Black Shop Friday will be made available to the first featured stores. In addition, a dedicated influencer program will promote the initiative. The event will rely on a combination of earned media activated by Edelman and paid support donated by the Illinois Lottery.

The Illinois Lottery is supporting the initiative by donating media in Chicago across multiple media channels including out of home, programmatic, online digital channels and social media platforms. “We are very proud to be part of this new campaign,” said Lottery Acting Director, Harold Mays, “As an avid supporter of the communities we serve by generating essential funding to support education and other good causes, supporting Black Shop Friday allows the Illinois Lottery to help bring attention to this important matter.”

To bring the concept to life, OKRP partnered with renowned Chicago photographer Parrish Lewis to create assets for the campaign. The Black Shop Friday typeface MARTIN, was created by designer Tré Seals, whose non-violent font was inspired by the posters and signage used during the Memphis Sanitation Strike of 1968. The website was built by Chicago agency Geletka+, working pro-bono with OKRP.

“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,” said John Geletka,  We really believe Black Shop Friday 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.“

The full list of shops participating in Black Shop Friday will be found at the website launching November 24. The list will be updated on an ongoing basis.

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