REI's #OptOutside Takes Titanium Grand Prix

Retailer Closed Its Stores on Black Friday in 'Anti-Promotion'

Published on Oct 27, 2015

Editor's Pick

REI's #OptOutside Black Friday campaign has been awarded the Titanium Grand Prix at Cannes.

The Venables Bell & Partners campaign, which also won the Promo & Activation Grand Prix earlier this week, has been a favorite at the festival and also snagged a Gold Lion in Integrated.

BBH founder and president John Hegarty said the jury was looking for "boundary busting work that marks a new direction for the industry and brings it forward."

REI's campaign around its decision to close stores on Black Friday, the busiest U.S. shopping day of the year, 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.

Read more about the Titanium category winners over at

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."

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Oct 27, 2015
Venables Bell & Partners
Paul Venables
Executive Creative Director:
Will McGinness
Creative Director:
Lee Einhorn
Adam Wolinsky
Art Director:
Avery Oldfield
Design Lead:
Jarrett Carr
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 Manager:
Ariel Rosen
Account Manager:
Gillian McBrayer
Business Affairs:
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
Benji Weinstein
Line Producer:
Jason Manz
Executive Producer:
Lori Stonebraker
Production Company:
Tool of North America
Executive Producer:
Oliver Fuselier
Executive Producer:
Dustin Callif
Editorial Company:
HutchCo Technologies
Jim Hutchins
Patrick O'Leary
Executive Producer:
Jane Hutchins
Visual Effects:
Brickyard VFX
Lead Artist:
Patrick Poulatian
Lead Artist:
Mandy Sorenson
Linda Jackson
Executive Producer:
Jeff Blodgett
Zach Fisher
Mix Company:
Lime Studios
Senior Motion Designer:
Victor Bivol
Executive Producer:
Executive Producer:
Raquel Bedard
Executive Producer:
Anna Fields
Music Supervision:
David Fisher
Music Supervision:
Songs for Film & TV
Senior Print Producer:
Michelle Wells
Senior Integrated Producer:
Marc McLean
Experience Design Company:
North Kingdom Production Company
Media Company:
Pacific Digital Image Production
Promotional Marketing:
Freestyle MKTG
PR Firm:
Buying and Planning:
EVP Group Director:
Kathryn Dillon
VP Director Strategy:
Chris Mittman
Associate Director of Strategy:
Jan Alexander Vitturi-Lochra
Strategy Supervisor:
Ellie Carroll
Strategy Associate:
Michael Barutt
Strategy Associate:
Agata Sciupider

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