REI Builds Web Business Around Its Offline Brand

REI.com, the online division of outdoor sporting goods retailer REI, is preparing to roll out its first print campaign from ad agency Copa cino. Billings were not disclosed.

Founded in 1938, REI has anchored its business on a co-op program—consumers can become lifetime members for a $15 fee—and is now aiming to cement that image online. With over 45,000 pages of products and information, including how-to pages and member bulletins, the Web site parallels the philosophy of REI’s bricks-and-mortar stores, said Devony Hastings, online public affairs manager for the company.

“We are still true to our philosophy” of taking the outdoor equipment business seriously, Hastings said, “and to our customers that are passionate about this lifestyle.”

Extending that brand equity to the online business, Seattle-based Copa cino will release the first of two print ads in November issues of national outdoor and sporting magazines. The inaugural ad pictures a “conquered” wedding cake, with waxed bride and groom figurines in full mountain-climbing gear standing atop it, embracing with ice axes in hand.

The text reads: “We understand. You’d rather be out there.”

The campaign is part of an ex tensive fourth-quarter marketing effort to promote REI.com. The store has over 78,000 field-tested products, including items not found in the bricks-and-mortar stores.

In recent years REI.com has received positive feedback from old and new customers suggesting it has retained the character of the stores, Hastings said.

“The core values remain the same,” said Jim Copacino, agency co-founder. “They are only reinterpreted for an evolving market.”

Copacino was founded in 1998 by Betti Fujikado and Jim Copa cino. The two met at Chiat/Day’s Seattle office in the 1980s. Other Copacino accounts include Albertsons.com, the Seattle Mariners, The Seattle Times and Premera Blue Cross.