#OptOutside Is A Truly Inspired Black Friday Campaign from REI

I’m just gonna say it – Black Friday sucks.  As a consumer, there is literally nothing I like about it.  This morning, I opened up my daily copy of the Wall Street Journal (yes, I still get and read actual newspapers) and saw a full page ad stating that REI would be closing their stores on Black Friday.  I headed over to their site and saw this covering their front page:


This is the most daring and brilliant use of company culture in an ad campaign that I can ever recall seeing.  Everything about this campaign 100% resonates with the core REI customer.  The REI brand is all about helping you find adventure.  Hell, they even have a section of their site called the 1440 Project that does nothing but celebrate every minute of being outdoors.

For most, the first thought will be “why would a company close their stores on the busiest shopping day of the year?”.  The answer is actually quite simple.

Black Friday Is A Firesale in a Mosh Pit

 Companies aren’t making huge profits on Black Friday.  They are pushing product at prices that are marginally profitable at best in order to try and get people to buy other products that aren’t on sale.  People act like animals fighting for scraps of food just hours after they are done “giving thanks” for all the good that they’ve experienced in the past year.  This is not what REI is about.  This is not what REI believes.  This is why REI is taking a stand.

Will they lose some top line revenue?  Probably.  Does it matter to the bottom line?  Not really.  This is a love letter to their core customers and their employees.  It will drive loyalty to their brand in the long term, which is far more important than one day of low margin revenue.

REI knows who they are and they know who their customers are.  This is something that takes an extreme amount of testicular fortitude and I absolutely love it.

Insanely Good TV Spot from Amazon

First off, let me say that it pains me to give kudos to Amazon, as the company is a continual pain in the collective ass of all small businesses that are forced to follow Minimum Advertising Pricing (MAP) rules, as manufacturers are generally unwilling to go to the mat with Amazon but will gladly bite the hand that feeds them and cut off any small business that doesn’t play by their MAP rules.  That rant is for another time however, as today I want to talk about a lovely little story about a guy, his dog and the website that makes them both happy.

This isn’t just good. It is ridiculously awesome.  What makes this ad so good? It has a single clear message with visuals and a tone that drives an emotional response. This is what so many companies strive for, but even those with the best intentions don’t get the results they’re looking for.

What makes this especially impressive is that Amazon is a company that sells everything. the focus of the message is clear. The goal is to create a message that focuses on how well Prime delivers on availability, accessibility and service. That is exactly what is happening with this ad.

The ad sends a very clear message that if there’s something you need, it is just a click away from your phone and that with Prime, you’ll be getting it fast. The fact that the setting looks real, the main actor looks like someone you’d actually encounter in a park and that the dog is both expressive and adorable is pure icing.

I’ll rail on this company all day for their borderline business practices, the way that they reportedly treat their employees and their slow destruction of small businesses in both the retail and wholesale space, but I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this ad.

Agency: Joint London
Creative Director: Damon Collins
Creatives: Algy Sharman, Al Brown
Director: Kevin Thomas