On Thanksgiving and Black Friday, while many companies were working to lure customers in with hefty discounts, one company decided to ask customers to give it money in exchange for nothing at all. 

Cards Against Humanity, maker of politically incorrect playing cards, ultimately convinced nearly 12,500 people to literally gift it $71,145.

Why would anybody give a company $5 or more in exchange for nothing? As Cards Against Humanity’s FAQ explained…

Because the greatest Black Friday gift of all is buying nothing. We’re offering that for the rock-bottom price of $5. How can you afford NOT to seize this incredible opportunity?

While most businesses won’t be able to convince their customers to pay for nothing, how Cards Against Humanity’s pulled off its successful Black Friday non-sale offers lessons for all companies.

Brand loyalty pays

Cards Against Humanity, which was born on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, has developed a loyal brand following, and its unique Black Friday campaign, which was aligned to its offbeat brand, was almost certainly a function of the popularity it has fostered.

For those questioning just how powerful brand loyalty can be, consider that this isn’t the first time Cards Against Humanity has made coin with an almost unbelievable campaign.

Last Black Friday, Cards Against Humanity sold 30,000 boxes of cattle feces at $6 a poop.

Going against the grain resonates

Countless consumers around the world open their wallets during the holiday shopping season, but that doesn’t mean that everybody loves the extreme consumerism this period brings.

By offering “the greatest Black Friday gift of all” – nothing – “for the rock-bottom price of $5,” Cards Against Humanity tapped into the anti-consumerism sentiment that the holiday shopping season brings out and found a way to profit by allowing consumers to express that sentiment.

This is an increasingly popular tactic at this time of year. 

American retailer REI, which decided to keep its brick-and-mortar stores closed on Black Friday, received a lot of buzz, much of it positive, for its Opt Outside campaign.

Charitable giving builds trust

In the past three years, Cards Against Humanity says it has helped raise over $4m for a number of charities and non-profits and it even created a $500,000 scholarship fund to help women pursuing degrees in science.

Although there was no promise that the profit earned this Black Friday would be donated, some speculated that it would be.

As it turned out, Cards Against Humanity distributed the windfall among its team, and only a portion of the windfall amount was in turn donated to charity, but Cards Against Humanity’s past generosity certainly didn’t hurt its Black Friday campaign.

Obviously, by not donating all of the money to charity, the company risks being criticized by those who assumed their Black Friday non-purchases would be given to charity, but the trust that Cards Against Humanity has built through past good deeds no doubt helped its Black Friday initiative this year.