Limited stock only – and when it’s gone, it’s gone! That’s the high-pressure sales pitch that has helped make Black Friday so lucrative for UK retailers. And it’s a tactic that wildlife conservation charity WWF adopted with a twist when it launched its first Black Friday promotion in 2019, urging consumers to “adopt an animal this holiday season – before they’re gone”. Mobile ads on Facebook and Instagram at first appeared to be offering Black Friday staples such as a handbag or a games console, only for the camera to pan back from the nose of a giant panda, WWF’s long standing icon of vulnerable and threatened species, under the headline: “Limited stock. Less than 1900 left.”
The charity’s decision to gatecrash the retail party, with the help of copywriters from the Cannes Lions Festival and Facebook’s Creative Shop, led to 5,154 financial conversions for a return on advertising spend (ROAS) of 1.91 – far above previous WWF adoption campaigns. Campaign success was solidified through a conversion lift study: WWF’s Black Friday campaign increased conversion rate by 32% versus a holdout group over the same period. It was an innovative mobile-first campaign that was simple in concept and execution but packed a big punch for wildlife. And it showed that nonprofits can compete for customers’ attention, even on Black Friday.