REI Opt Outside

Venables Bell & Partners, San Francisco, has won the Promo & Activation Grand Prix for REI Opt Outside (REI #Optoutside), the campaign promoting REI’s decision to close its 143 stores on November 27, 2015, the busiest U.S. shopping day of the year. REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc Co-op) encouraged customers and staff to get away from the shops and head for the outdoors on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving Day. The effort generated 2.7 billion PR impressions, inspired more than a hundred other retailers to also close for the day, and got by REI’s estimates 1.4 million people to go outside rather than shop that day. The campaign also won Best of Show at the 2016 One Show, and a Wood Pencils for direct integrated and integrated mobile campaigns at the 2016 D&AD Awards.

REI Opt Outside

The REI Opt Outside campaign features two anthem films, including one depicting Mr. Stritzke sitting in his office, imploring viewers to get out and join the movement. As he leans over his desk, the camera pulls back to reveal that his office actually sits atop a stunning Washington State peak. Another features a gorgeous mountainscape, juxtaposed with audio of newscasters banging on about the Black Friday shopping rush. A follow-up film, “The Conversation Continues”, was released on December 2.



Jerry Stritzke, REI President, wrote a letter REI’s 5.5 million members, quoting outdoor visionary John Muir, who said in 1901, “thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home.” Stritzke continued, “As a member-owned co-op, our definition of success goes beyond money. We believe that a life lived outdoors is a life well lived and we aspire to be stewards of our great outdoors. 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.”

To help aspiring adventurers choose how to #OptOutside, optoutside.rei.com featured recommended hiking trails, many built and nurtured by nonprofits supported by REI. Co-op employees and members shared thousands of outdoor experiences throughout the holiday season and afterwards. On the day itself, REI.com featured a black takeover screen that encouraged customers to #OptOutside.

REI Opt Outside Explore Outdoors
REI Opt Outside Gallery
REI Opt Outside Mobile
REI is closing on Black Friday - REI Opt Outside

The REI Opt Outside campaign included in-store banners, and full-page print ads featuring the headline “REI Is Closing,” running in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and regional papers.

REI Opt Outside outdoor banner
REI Opt Outside print advertisement

A small number of outdoor enthusiasts were sent Thanksgiving leftovers supply kits containing freeze-dried holiday staples like turkey, stuffing, and apple crisp to take out on the trail.

REI Opt Outside Kit
REI Opt Outside Kit open
REI Opt Outside Kit boxes

According to REI chief creative officer Ben Steele, “OptOutside was about sharing the idea that life is richer, more connected and complete outdoors. It showed how powerful co-operation can be. We asked our agency partners — Venables, Edelman and Spark — to work together as part of our internal team to breathe life into a seemingly counter-intuitive concept. The real magic was how 175 organizations inside and outside the outdoor industry stepped in. We thank everyone who helped make 2015 an amazing year for the REI community and hope that more people consider life outdoors as a result.”

Rei Opt Outside Credits

The Rei Opt Outside campaign was developed at Venables Bell & Partners by chairman Paul Venables, executive creative director Will McGinness, creative director Lee Einhorn, copywriter Adam Wolinsky, art director Avery Oldfield, design lead Jarrett Carr, designer Nicola Broderick, head of strategy Michael Davidson, communications strategy director Gavin Jones, senior strategist Mike Riley, business leader Colleen McGee, account supervisor Krista Muir, account managers Ariel Rosen and Gillian McBrayer, business affairs director Sametta Gbilia, director of analytics Jeff Burger, director of experience design Jeff Teicher, lead digital producer Adela Chung, director of integrated production Craig Allen, director of art production Jacqueline Fodor, senior producer Jake Grand, project manager Shannon Fischer, senior print producer Michelle Wells, lead digital producer Adela Chung, senior integrated producer Marc McLean.

Filming was shot by director Benji Weinstein via Tool of North America with line producer Jason Manz, executive producer Lori Stonebraker, managing director/live action executive producer Oliver Fuselier, head of digital content Dustin Callif.

Editors were Jim Hutchins and Patrick O’Leary at HutchCo Technologies with executive producer Jane Hutchins.

Visual effects were produced at Brickyard VFX by lead artists Patrick Poulatian and Mandy Sorenson, producer Linda Jackson and executive producer Jeff Blodgett. In-house post production was done at Lumberyard by senior motion designer Victor Bivol, executive producers Raquel Bedard and Anna Fields.

Sound was mixed at Lime Studios by Zach Fisher at Lime Studios.

Music, “Step Out” by José González, was supervised by David Fisher at Songs for Film & TV

The microsite was designed at North Kingdom. Digital production was done at 14Four.

Retouching and prepress were produced at Pacific Digital Image. Promotional marketing production was by Freestyle MKTG.

PR was managed at Edelman.

Media was managed at Spark SMG by EVP group director Kathryn Dillon, VP director of strategy Chris Mittman, associate director of strategy Jan Alexander Vitturi-Lochra, strategy supervisor Ellie Carroll, strategy associates Michael Barutt, Agata Sciupider.