REI Shows that Authenticity Resonates with #OptOutside


REI will be promoting its #OptOutside campaign this month. This marks the third year that the brand will close its doors on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. All online shopping transactions will also be on hold. Instead, REI — and outdoor apparel company — is paying its 12,000+ employees to spend time outside. For the second year in a row, it's inviting Americans to join. 

That's because the co-op is committed to helping people tap into the joy, renewal, and connection that comes from spending time outside with friends and family. It also donates millions annually to support conservation efforts nationwide and sends volunteers to build trails, clean up beaches, and restore local habitats. 

Each year, the #optoutside campaign has expanded. The first year, REI simply involved its employees. The second year, the campaign added activity finders and expert advice to its website, inviting Americans to get outdoors with them. This year, the brand is giving individuals even more inspiration to get outside. 

It has built a library of aspirational Instagram photos that consumers, team members, and other real people have posted with the hashtag #OptOutside. Clicking on the image will provide additional information about the location and experience, so that those who want to #optoutside on Black Friday have even more locations to choose from. More photos are added daily so that individuals who enjoy posting their adventures to Instagram can check back to see whether they've been featured in the site's library.

“What started as a moment has kind of become a movement,” Ben Steele, REI's chief creative officer told FastCompany. “It’s about behavior change and giving people tools to do something different with their time. We talk a lot about the power of authenticity and the power of truth, and it’s got to be there in your stories, but it’s got to be there in your actions, too."

That's one company that's willing to walk the walk to contribute to the social good.