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October 28, 2016

For the second year in a row, the consumer cooperative, REI, is running their #OptOutside Black Friday campaign. They are closing their stores on the biggest in-store shopping day of the year and asking their members and employees (who, by the way, are getting paid for the day off) to spend the day in the outdoors with family, friends and pets.

There are many good lessons to be learned from how REI ran the #OptOutside campaign last year and how they are running it this year that are best practices we all know, but are good to see put into action so adeptly.

Living your values really does matter

In a 2015 open letter to customers, REIs CEO, Jerry Stritzke said: For 76 years, our co-op has been dedicated to one thing and one thing only: a life outdoors. We believe that being outside makes our lives better. And Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of this essential truth. Members appreciated the openness, honesty and commitment to corporate values Mr. Stritzke letter represented and as a result, 1.4 million people participated in the campaign.

Choosing partners that share your values builds trust

Due to the great success last year, REI has expanded the campaign to include partners who share their values to help more people experience the great outdoors.

Subaru is one such partner. REI and Subaru are both sponsors of the National Park Foundation and the NPS Centennial, so it is not totally surprising to learn that Subaru will be dispatching cars to animal shelters on Black Friday to get shelter pets out of their cages and into the woods. Subaru is also sending shuttles to take New York City pet owners and their pets on an outdoor adventure.

Because Subaru and REI both support parks are committed to preserving nature, their partnership in this campaign feels authentic and builds trust. And who doesnt love hearing about cooped up dogs getting day to romp in the woods?

Encouraging engagement makes people feel more invested

The #OptOutside campaign encourages people to interact and engage. REI makes it easy to share the activity you have planned for Black Friday on social media and to invite others in the will you go out with me WYGOWM. Plus, on Twitter, you can view what other people are doing.

Keying in you zipcode on the #OptOutside site, all the nearby hiking and trail running, mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding, climbing, family-friendly, dog-friendly experiences are displayed online. You can choose the degree adventures ranging from easy+ to difficult and get driving directions to boot.

Now this might all sound like one great big ad for REI, but its not meant to be. Its just good to see a company doing so many things right. I dont know about you, but I am going to #OptOutside.


Kathleen Holm is Marketing Director of the TCS Digital Software & Solutions (DS&S) Group. She has more than 25 years of experience marketing technology software and services to enterprises worldwide. She leverages her extensive background in enterprise software technology to help organizations develop effective marketing strategies, create targeted messaging and positioning, and implement effective go-to-market plans to improve corporate performance. Prior to joining TCS, Kathleen was a Senior Principal of technical product marketing for Oracle Fusion Middleware where she was responsible for defining the marketing strategy based on industry maturity and customer trends. She also held positions at IBM including Market Manager for WebSphere Developer Programs, Market Manager for Tivoli Integrated Service Management and Tivoli Brand Specialist. Prior to joining IBM, Kathleen worked with four high-tech startups.


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