Getting More Bang For Your Brand

Originally posted on LinkedIn

I ran across a promoted post on Facebook this morning from REI that got my attention. Like a growing number of companies, REI is opting to give their employees the Thanksgiving holiday off. But the company is among only a handful taking it a step further by not opening on Black Friday. 

Granted, Black Friday isn't what it used to be for retailers, with online and early-bird deals taking a bit of the wind out of the actual day's sales. Still, it's a big shopping day and one on which retailers can see a boost in transactions and move merchandise that may not have been selling at traditional "sale" prices.

So, while other companies planning to be closed on Black Friday are playing various versions of the "holiday/family/faith/we're-more-thankful-than-the-other-guys" card, REI's marketing team seems to have pulled more than a few all-nighters and found a way to satisfy employees, speak to its core customer base and root itself squarely in its brand with #OptOutside.

Instead of opening on Black Friday, REI is paying its employees to take the day off and do something outside (Note: I'm thinking they may have taken a page from the GoPro book, where employees are regularly encouraged to get out and use their GoPros and their post their videos online...another bit of marketing brilliance.)

But, REI isn't stopping there. It's doubling down and speaking to its core customers--you and me, or maybe just me. REI wants US to get outside too, because that's what the company is committed to:

"REI believes that being outside makes our lives better. That's why this Black Friday, we're closing all 143 of our stores and paying our employees to head outside."

The campaign website features a page where you can share your plans to get outside on Black Friday, a tally page with pictures of people who've already shared their plans and even a zip code look-up to help you find places to get outside.

The simplicity of it is fantastic. Why try to come up with a reason for closing your doors that sounds like everyone else, when you can just go back to basics. Relate that decision to your brand--who you are as a company--and go from there. For REI, it wasn't a big leap, but too many companies forget that the best first place to start with any campaign is "How can we get more bang out of our brand?'

In this case, it should pay off for REI. I hope it does. I know I'm sold.