Best of the Decade: REI shuts down on Black Friday

Retailer closed it stores on biggest shopping day of the year in 'anti-promotion'

Published On
Oct 27, 2015

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Best of the Decade

Outdoor gear and sporting goods retailer REI’s now famous integrated effort debuted in October 2015 as a reminder to consumers that the day after Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be an all-out shop fest. The company closed all of its 143 stores on Black Friday that year, told its employees to spend the day in the outdoors and still paid them for a full day of work. The move inspired 100 other retailers to follow suit, generated 2.7 billion PR impressions and earned the Cannes Lions’ most coveted award—the Titanium Grand Prix, among other top honors. Perhaps most important, REI estimates the effort got 1.4 million people to enjoy nature—not the mall—that day. t's one of the decade’s finest examples of a brand truly practicing what it preaches. 

Original Story:

"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home." Environmental philosopher John Muir wrote those words in 1901, but REI CEO Jerry Stritzke brought them back in a letter he just sent to the 5.5 million members of his outdoor lifestyle retailer and co-op. The letter announced that the company would be closing its 143 stores on Black Friday in an effort to encourage consumers to experience the world, not the madding crowds, on the busiest shopping day of the year. What's more, the retailer is even paying its 12,000 employees who won't be working that day to ensure they enjoy some time outside too.

"Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the essential truth that life is richer, more connected and complete when you choose to spend it outside," said Mr. Stritzke in a statement. "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."

The OptOutside campaign, which the brand created with Venables Bell, features a pair of 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. There are also a pair of witty 15-second spots, one that announces that REI will be opening at a special time on Black Friday: 8:00 am the following Saturday, while another describes what the company really wants consumers to do the day after Thanksgiving.

The effort also includes full-page print ads featuring the headline "REI Is Closing," running this week in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and regional papers. There's also a microsite, which features various hiking trails that have been built or maintained by REI-supported nonprofits.

According to REI CCO 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."


Oct 27, 2015
Brand :
Client :
Agency :
Venables Bell & Partners-San Francisco
Chairperson :
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
Senior Strategist :
Mike Riley
Business Leader :
Colleen McGee
Account Supervisor :
Krista Muir
Account Manager :
Ariel Rosen
Account Manager :
Gillian McBrayer
Business Affairs :
Sametta Gbilia
Director, Analytics :
Jeff Burger
Director, Integrated Production :
Craig Allen
Director, Art Production :
Jacqueline Fodor
Senior Producer :
Jake Grand
Project Manager :
Shannon Fischer
Director :
Benji Weinstein
Line Producer :
Jason Manz
Executive Producer :
Lori Stonebraker
Production Company :
Tool of North America
Editorial Company :
HutchCo Technologies, Inc
Editor :
Jim Hutchins
Editor :
Patrick OLeary
Executive Producer :
Jane Hutchins
Visual Effects :
Brickyard VFX
Lead Artist :
Patrick Poulatian
Lead Artist :
Mandy Sorenson
Producer :
Linda Jackson
Executive Producer :
Jeff Blodgett
Mix :
Zach Fisher
Mix Company :
Lime Studios
Senior Motion Designer :
Victor Bivol
Executive Producer :
Executive Producer :
Raquel Bedard
Music Supervision :
David Fisher
Executive Producer :
Anna Fields
Music Supervision :
Songs for Film & TV
Senior Print Producer :
Michelle Wells
Lead Digital Producer :
Adela Chung
Senior Integrated Producer :
Marc McLean
Experience Design Company :
North Kingdom Production Company
Media Company :
Retouching/Prepress :
Pacific Digital Image Production
Promotional Marketing :
Freestyle MKTG
PR Firm :
Executive Vice President, Group Director :
Kathryn Dillon
Vice President, Director Strategy :
Chris Mittman
Associate Director, Strategic Planning :
Jan Alexander Vitturi-Lochra
Strategy Supervisor :
Ellie Carroll
Strategy Associate :
Michael Barutt
Strategy Associate :
Agata Sciupider
Executive Producer :
Oliver Fuselier
Executive Producer :
Dustin Callif
Communications Strategy Director :
Gavin Jones
Director, Experience Design :
Jeff Teicher

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