Branding, Culture, Marketing

Don’t shop: How you can capture REI’s #OptOutside branding gold

#OptOutside. It’s the latest from REI. On Black Friday, the $2.2 billion retailer is telling all of us to opt outside. As in, don’t shop. Connect with your family and friends … preferably using our products … in the great outdoors. Because this is what the REI brand stands for and they are living it boldly with this move. Hallelujah!

“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. We’re closing our doors, paying our employees to get out there, and inviting America to OptOutside with us because we love great gear, but we are even more passionate about the experiences it unlocks”, said REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke.

Mic drop.

When a retailer says “no thanks” to the biggest retail day of the year, it sounds totally nuts. USA Today called it “an unprecedented move for the modern-day holiday shopping season”.  I call it genius. I call it staying true to a brand promise. I call it memorable and sustainable.

Bravo, Jerry Stritzke. You are pushing the boundaries of your well-established brand and it will no-doubt translate into more customer engagement and of course, the almighty dollar. Which makes it branding gold and pure genius.

Whenever we host a happy hour at our office I feel like we are living our brand just like REI. For us, our brand promise is to grow companies, ideas and people. Casually bringing all of those together over a bourbon makes perfect sense to us. I imagine Jerry feels spectacular right now having launched the #OptOutside campaign. But imagine how he will feel on November 27th when his brand is in action for employees and customers? I know for me, every time we host an event that has everything to do with connecting people and ideas, I feel this overwhelming sense of purpose. It feels full of opportunity and vacant of self. It is pure magic and I recommend you try this if you haven’t already. Take your company’s brand promise and get creative about how you express it. Trust me, it will energize you and your employees and your customers will rally around you.

One more nugget from Jerry Stritzke, because it’s so breathtaking to know people think this way, especially the CEO of a top retailer. It isn’t all about money, ladies and gentlemen. Money is not WHY people buy from you so stop focussing on it all the time! Be your brand in the most awesome ways.


“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.”

Thank you, Jerry. I will.

Dayna Neumann

boundless. curious. renegade. founder @ execuity

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