MLK Day Email Examples and Marketing Strategy

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It goes by several names – MLK Day, Martin Luther King Day, or just King Day – but the third Monday of January is a federal holiday of which the official name is Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. It commemorates the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King, the Nobel Peace-prize winning civil rights leader best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience in the U.S.

Read on for some great examples of MLK Day email campaigns you can use as inspiration, and strategies you can follow to create your own MLK Day email marketing plan.

Email Examples

Subtle but powerful

We like this email from Nike because it’s a subtle but powerful way to recognize Martin Luther King Day by tying the holiday to corporate values.

Instead of promoting products, Nike uses the email to highlight its EQUALITY project, featuring athletes who represent the quest for equality: African-American NFL athlete Michael Bennett, soccer pro Megan Rapinoe, a lesbian, and Ibtihaj Muhammed, a Muslim-American member of the U.S. Fencing Team.

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Positive dreams for our collective future

This email takes a child-centered approach to the King Holiday by using it as the inspiration for an in-store craft event. The King content is featured at the top of the email, but it segues easily into business as usual in the midsection and bottom. We love the inclusive sentiment “a DIY keepsake that encourages kids to have positive dreams for our collective future.”

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Blending across ethnicities

Sevenly is a cause-related ecommerce retailer, so celebrating the Martin Luther King holiday is right in its wheelhouse. But by commingling the King holiday with the advent of Black History Month in February it expands the focus on King-related “cause art” it commissioned for the event. We also like that the brand uses a blend of ethnicities in its promotion.

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A bright and sunny message in mid-Jan

Some might look askance at the subject line (“Happy Martin Luther King Day – up to 50% Off!”) but it fits with the lighter approach to the day, as does the headline, “Let your breakfast propel you into a meaningful day!”

Beyond the holiday sentiment, though, the other thing we love about this email is that it comes in mid-January, which is usually pretty dark and dismal up here in the Northern Hemisphere, and the bright and sunny hero image is a little dose of light.

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A product match

Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Co’s Social Justice Collection is a perfect match for MLK Day. The brand adds two purchase incentives to its email: a free mask, and a donation to an organization that brings educational opportunities to underserved communities.

The theme of MLK Day extends to the email’s design which has black as the dominant color. It’s a very clear and strong color choice that works well as it’s in line with the rest of the email’s message.

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A spotlight on black artists

1000 Museums sells fine art reproduction and for MLK Day, the brand showcases works of art by black artists. The colorful header ties the message of Dr. King to the world of art and the accompanying MLK quote talks about non-violent action as it could apply to artists as well.

The email consists of visuals of different pieces without any explanation, inviting the recipient to click through to learn more.

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Discounts as donation incentives

On Martin Luther King Day, home products brand OCM donated a portion of its proceeds to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). To incentivize shopping – and thus boost donations – on that day, the brand also offered 30% off the entire store. That’s quite a big discount and paired with the limited time it’s available, it’s bound to bring in sales for OCM and donations for NAACP.

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MLK Day Email Marketing Best Practices

Don't treat MLK Day like Presidents Day

A quick search of emails with some variation on “Martin Luther King Jr. Day” in the MailCharts database turns up many messages using the holiday to promote their products and brands the same way they use Presidents Day (the federal holiday in February that recognizes the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln).

In other words, they slap an MLK Day banner and a red-white-and-blue color scheme on their regular promotions. But that approach ignores an essential difference between the two holidays.

Both honor deceased public figures of importance to American history, but time and legend have made Lincoln and Washington remote figures. King is still flesh and blood for many Americans, and any efforts that make light of his life or death could fall flat or, worse, annoy or anger your customers. Also, know that people are watching what you send, and they’ll probably call out any perceived errors in judgment.

Highlight your company charities, volunteer activities or values

Aligning your brand with the values associated with the King holiday can be tricky, but proceeding with respect and caution will help you avoid any inadvertent missteps.

Coming soon after the Christmas holidays, Martin Luther King Jr Day holiday can help you reconnect with your customers and give them a reason to support your brand by seeing the work your company as a whole and workers do for your communities.

Many of the emails we liked for MLK Day used the occasion to send a message related to the holiday with an image of King, a quote, or something similar.

The King holiday is the only federal holiday with a Congress-designated Day of Service, which adds a layer of solemnity missing from Presidents Day. Keep that in mind if you decide to incorporate the holiday in your campaign messaging.