Opting Out: REI’s Strong Stance on Black Friday

As the days grow shorter and the air gets colder, one thing comes to the forefront of everyone’s minds: the holidays. Alongside the holidays comes the busy hustle and bustle of an eagerly awaited, highly marketed shopping season that is kicked off by Black Friday.

But amongst the wave of radio, TV, print and even social media ads, stores often face a public backlash for opening their doors earlier and earlier each year, pulling retail employees away from friends, families and most importantly, the holiday dinner.

Making a Statement on Social Media

Harnessing the power of social media, outdoor clothing and gear retailer REI has created a full-blown social media campaign that stands against the commercialism found on Black Friday – the day after a holiday dedicated to thankfulness, gratitude and charity. Seen as anti-marketing, REI’s OptOutside campaign urges customers to avoid shopping on Black Friday all together, which is a strong stance for a retailer to take on the nation’s largest shopping day, proving the company’s brand built on good social morals and stewardship.

The company’s social media campaign focuses on one central hashtag, #OptOutside, that encourages shoppers to spend the day outside and away from retailers with the company of friends and family. From this, REI created a dedicated landing page that highlights the more than 2 million people who have pledged spend the day outside as opposed to in line at a big box retailer.

Website visitors can upload photos to various photo filters that highlight their desired activity for the day. From this, photos can be shared to a user’s social channels to encourage others to join them in the stance against Black Friday shopping.

The Three Keys to a Successful Social Media Campaign

#OptOutside is an excellent example of a well-strategized social media campaign as it hits three main facets of any successful campaign:

  • Engaging – By allowing users to upload their own photos, REI’s site creates a layer of interactivity that encourages visitors to play with the site. Not only does this reduce bounce rate, but it encourages visitors to explore more of the site and see what else REI has to offer.
  • Shareable – At its core essence, a good social media campaign allows users to create content that is shareable to their own channels. By using custom photo filters, organizations give users the chance to create something is unique to them as well as branded with the organization’s message. In REI’s case, photos are branded with #OptOutside along the perimeter of a photo.
  • Measurable – Unlike print and broadcast advertising, digital advertising allows marketers to easily track and measure the results of a specific campaign. By using a dedicated hashtag, such as #OptOutside, companies can clearly track the reach of their efforts, and moreover, capture a specific list of individuals who are interested in the campaign.

REI’s stance on Black Friday doesn’t end with a hashtag. The company took feedback from its employees about the holiday. Knowing, the stress, anxiety and frustration that stems from Black Friday, REI truly walked the walk and deemed the day after Thanksgiving a paid holiday for all employees.

Overall, REI’s goal is to lead by example to pursue social change. By creating such a strong, engaging campaign, REI is demonstrating their values in a bold way, while marketing themselves at the same time. Not every company can afford to make such a strong statement, but it cannot be denied that REI’s campaign is truly inspirational.

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