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Photo by skeeze

Baylee Vogler, Staff Writer

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The words Black Friday are often affiliated with chaos and unbeatable prices, but some stores are trying to “opt out” of this crazy day. Not only are stores opting out, but they are encouraging other stores and customers to “opt outside,” an idea that people should spend more time outside during the holidays with their friends and family, rather than focusing on getting good deals.

Leading this movement and idea of “opting outside” is REI. REI stands for Recreational Equipment Incorporated and it’s a store that sells gear for all things recreational. Last year during Black Friday, they started a program that would encourage their employees and customers to opt outside and get outdoors, instead of standing in lines waiting to save money on Christmas presents.

An article written by the REI staff talks about what actions they are taking to help encourage people to spend time outdoors. They said, “We closed on one of the most popular shopping days of the year, paid our 12,000+ employees to spend time outside, and invited America to join us.” It then went on to say that the feedback they received from the public was completely overwhelming. Over 1.4 million people and 170 different associations chose to “opt outside” and the movement is only expanding.

REI is also partnering with Subaru, as they encourage their customers to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. Last year, Subaru pushed people to take their pets outside and spend the day with them. Not only did they promote this message to the public, but according to their website, they provided a “fleet of cars and drivers in New York to take shelter dogs out into nature for a great day.”

REI launched several commercials to promote this idea of “opting outside” on Black Friday. As the REI – #OPTOUTSIDE (CANNES LIONS CASE STUDY) video begins, it pans out on a mountain scenery. The background audio, however, is not the peaceful sounds of nature, but the urgency of reporters bringing you the latest news about various Black Friday horror stories. As the video goes on, it shows the impact REI had on the community. A huge part of the video focuses on the results and the response from the public they received. They didn’t just encourage people to “be in the mountains rather than the aisles,” but they prepared the way for people to do so.

The commercial shows how REI made it easy to find hikes; by simply going to their website and typing in your zip code, you can search trails that accommodate your needs. In addition to finding these hikes, REI created a new search engine where you can explore different areas that have been linked by the same hashtag. A wide range of hashtags includes #adventure, #nature, and #outdoors. By clicking on the links, you are taken to pictures people have posted using those hashtags. REI has made it so each picture is associated with several hikes in that specific area. Once you select the hike you want, there is a detailed description of it and a map that shows you how to get there.

The research was done for us, now we just need to get outside this Black Friday. During the video, it also said, “Over 150 businesses followed REI’s lead. And hundreds of parks opened their gates for free.” REI is doing something few other businesses would ever dare to do, but the success they are having and the response from the public shows that it can be done. This movement is only growing, so decide for yourself. Will you “opt outside?”

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