When major brands appear in Hollywood films, you tend to assume some money changed hands in a product placement deal. Not so with REI and the movie Wild.
The film is based on the memoir by Cheryl Strayed, who has a long-lasting, meaningful relationship with REI. The outdoor gear company earned a special place in her heart during her 1,100-mile hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. She lost her boots midway through the hike, but was able to phone the company—and they shipped her a new pair, no questions asked.
That customer service stuck with her, and made it into her memoir. And now it's in the film starring Reese Witherspoon. And Strayed confirmed to Adweek this week that REI's appearance in the film isn't a paid placement.
And it doesn't stop there. Danner, the footwear company, created the boots that Reese Witherspoon wears in the movie—and they're now available for sale at REI. "Each pair comes in a vintage Danner box, the exact box used in 1995 when Cheryl Strayed set off to hike 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail," the brand says.
How's that for product integration?
While the brand posts regularly on all of its social profiles, the one to follow is its Instagram. The photos feature REI products, but the focus tends to be on the outdoor activities, inspiring followers to get outdoors themselves.
The brand has several channels on its YouTube page—member stories, expert advice, various hacks. Since the brand wants to keep followers coming back, it helps that the company has contests like the one above.
- REI started as a cooperative, or co-op, in 1938 and is still run as such.
- Since 1987, REI has had a full-service adventure travel outlet specializing in outdoor activities.
- In 1993, the company founded the REI Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on fostering children and young adults' relationship with nature.