Seattle Agency, Marketing Students Promote Local Black-Owned Businesses for Black Friday


Another agency is getting in on a spreading effort to harness the shopping fervor around Black Friday to promote Black-owned businesses.

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Agency DNA Seattle partnered with the VCU Brandcenter’s graduate marketing program for “#BlackBlackFriday,” an online and social program designed to drive support for local Black-owned businesses during post-Thanksgiving shopping sprees in an effort to address the decline of such businesses in 2020. The initiative follows a campaign from Chicago agencies OKRP and Geletka’s “Black Shop Friday” campaign promoting Black-owned businesses in Chicago.

“The Brandcenter and its students believe that civic engagement is at the core of what we must do,” Vann Graves, who joined VCU Brandcenter as executive director in 2018, said in a statement. “In our work as communicators, marketers and creative problem solvers we have a responsibility to support and elevate communities that need an amplified voice through brands and branding.”

According to a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 41% of Black-owned businesses nationwide shut down in the early days of the pandemic, with Black-owned businesses shutting down at twice the rate of other small businesses.

“Black-owned businesses are often at a disadvantage from the moment they open their doors, if they’re ever able to overcome the barriers of entering into entrepreneurship to begin with,” VCU Brandcenter strategy student and project leader Nana Dadzie said in a statement. “As a student learning to solve problems for brands, I saw no better opportunity to help business owners who look like me—with the same dreams as me—in times like these.”

The program encourages consumers to show their support for local Black-owned businesses by sharing their purchases or the stores they shopped at by posting digital “#BlackBlackFriday” stickers found on Facebook and Instagram, inspired by the “I Voted” sticker. A BlackBlackFriday website links to aggregated lists of Black-owned stores Seattle shoppers can help support.

DNA Seattle brought in a team of students at the VCU Brandcenter graduate marketing program to collaborate on the initiative. A team of art directors, copywriters, strategists, UX designers and others developed the online sticker activation, branding, website, and activation for “#BlackBlackFriday.”

VCU Brandcenter experience design student Danielle Loleng said in a statement that the campaign’s art direction took inspiration from ’90s hip-hop and Black television.

“We drew from shows like Martin and In Living Color and wanted to give the vibe of a cookout to give the tone of familiarity, fun and community,” she said.

In a statement, DNA Seattle president and chief growth officer Chris Witherspoon reiterated the initiative’s mission to help keep Black-owned businesses afloat amid the pandemic and holiday season.

“As the students wrote on the website copy, ‘This year is an opportunity to make Black Friday not about deals and bargains, but about dreams, community and opportunity,’” he said.

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