Recreational Equipment Inc.’s #OptOutside Campaign

Read about REI’s #OptOutside Campaign, and how it is affecting the largest shopping day of the year, as told by the IC PRSSA Blog!

By: Victoria King

Most people are pretty familiar with REI or Recreational Equipment Incorporated. If not, all you need to know is that they’re a national outdoor retailer that’s been working as a co-op since 1938. In choosing to utilize a co-op business structure, REI is able to spend more time focusing on consumer wants and needs instead of on profit. This means that members get to reap the benefits of the organization while the company itself is able to do what it’s best at – encouraging people to go outside, and providing the best products to do so.


Last year, REI launched their first ever #OptOutside campaign. This campaign begins with the simple idea of closing down their 143 retail stores on Black Friday, in an effort to encourage people to go outside and spend time with friends, family and nature. It then expanded to include other corporations who decided to do the same thing, joining in on the fun by accepting REI’s invite using the hashtag #OptOutside.

This year, REI is doing it all over again – and on an even broader scale. The company has decided to pay its 12,000+ employees to spend time outside for the duration of Black Friday and has invited all of America to join. It received a large amount of support and so far more than 1.4 million people and 170 organizations have chosen to #OptOutside.

While closing all of its stores on the busiest day in the global retail calendar was a risky move, CEO Jerry Stritzke was all for it. With the belief that the outdoors strengthens individuals and society as a whole, Stritzke states, “In our increasingly urbanized society, we all need to find time to breathe fresh air and reflect. Spending time outdoors lifts us up. That idea is baked into the way we run REI.”


In terms of being a co-op this was a very strong public relations move for REI. In turning its attention away from what could be the biggest day for creating income, it maintains its word to dedicate more attention to consumers and nature than to money. Not only this, but with such a large following from individuals and other organizations, it has increased its place in the public eye. In doing so, it has also created a positive atmosphere for the company by targeting the feelings that Thanksgiving tends to evoke. This is the season for spending time with family and friends, preferably outside, rather than in the aisles of department stores – and REI knows that.

When it comes to how REI is expanding the campaign this year, it has joined with corporate partners who have also agreed to #OptOutside. This includes Subaru and Google who are in turn creating projects that target their own audience alongside REI. Subaru will be providing a mass of vehicles and drivers to take shelter dogs out of their cages and into the wilderness for the day in an attempt to unite drivers, the outdoors and their pets. It will remain open on Black Friday though. Google on the other hand, is launching a pilot program to support nonprofits whose focuses are on nature.

In creating such a broad scale campaign with many supporters, REI is not only doing good things for the company itself, but for society as a whole – and what’s not admirable about that?



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