Early mornings, crazy lines, pushing, shoving … and to think Thanksgiving – the day of thankfulness – was the day before? It’d be an understatement to say Black Friday has gotten a little out of hand, and REI, one of the world’s largest specialty outdoor retailer, agrees.
On Monday morning, REI made headlines as President and CEO Jerry Stritzke announced the retailer will close all 143 locations on Black Friday and pay its 12,000 employees as though it were a regular workday so they can “do what they love most – be outside.” The campaign, #OptOutside, encourages consumers to join REI and take the time to get outside and “reconnect with family and friends this Thanksgiving holiday.” As part of the campaign, REI developed a new website, optoutside.rei.com, with recommended hiking trails, and on Black Friday, REI.com will have a black takeover screen encouraging visitors to #OptOutside and share their outdoor experiences on social media using #OptOutside in posts.
As a PR pro, I can’t help but get excited when brands and retailers launch campaigns that are on-message with their entire business model, and REI truly put their “money where their motto is.”
The reaction from the public has been overwhelmingly positive. Media, consumers and those hoping their employer will be inspired by REI are praising the retailer’s decision to close its doors on Black Friday. TIME Magazine even called it “a victory for family time.” More retailers are hopping on the anti-Black Friday bandwagon. As always, there’s a means to an end (aka hopes for a revenue increase) with any campaign, so it should be interesting to see if this campaign will have any affect on REI’s sales this holiday season.
Until then, I invite you to join me this Black Friday and #OptOutside! You can find me on one of these trails.