REI Urges Folks To #OptOutside In Its Social Anti-Campaign For Black Friday
The outdoor equipment cooperative builds its brand by taking a stand on Black Friday madness — and forgoing any sales on the big day.
In an environment in which Christmas advertising starts appearing in October and Black Friday at some retail stores is marked by life-threatening mob scenes, outdoor products retailer REI is opting out, or more accurately, choosing to #OptOutside this year. In a move consistent with the brand’s values, the company’s CEO this week announced that REI would be shuttering its stores on Black Friday, giving its employees the day off so they can engage in outdoor activities, and rallying anti-consumerism sentiment in social channels.
Meanwhile, REI.com will be “blacked out” with a takeover screen on the big day, but shoppers will still be able to view and purchase products, though the transactions won’t be processed until the next day.
Said Jerry Stritzke, president and CEO of REI, in a statement:
We think that Black Friday has gotten out of hand and so we are choosing to invest in helping people get outside with loved ones this holiday season, over spending it in the aisles. Please join us and inspire us with your experiences. We hope to engage millions of Americans and galvanize the outdoor community to get outside.
An REI spokesperson told me the idea originated with the co-op’s leadership team, which then engaged agency partners Venables Bell & Partners, Edelman and Spark for a collaborative design and execution.
The campaign centers around the #OptOutside hashtag and a microsite built for the occasion at www.optoutside.rei.com, though the PR the brand has garnered, and will garner, through this move has not been inconsiderable. So far, it has included a write-up in USA Today.
Since REI is a member-owned cooperative, Stritzke kicked off the effort by emailing its members, telling them, “While the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we hope to see you in the great outdoors,” and urging them to visit the microsite to customize their own #OptOutside message and share it via social media.
The microsite, rather than featuring products, is flush with stunning panoramic views of mountains, trails and sparkling bodies of water — many of which can be used as backgrounds for the customizable social media messages the brand is encouraging.
The site aggregates those social messages on a gallery page which, at the time of this writing, proclaimed that 734,102 people are choosing to #OptOutside on Black Friday.
Additionally, the site allows people to look up nearby recreation destinations by ZIP code, location and activity:
Besides promoting it via PR and enlisting its members to support the campaign socially, REI has also put together a series of videos explaining its decision and reiterating its brand values. These :30 videos appear on YouTube and look likely to be used as TV spots. A brand representative said there would be ads in select markets, but didn’t elaborate on placements or creative.
Additionally, REI has been spreading the word on its other social channels: