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REI Makes Peace With Nature

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Rather than pitting man against nature, Recreational Equipment Inc.'s new campaign espouses a harmonious relationship between the sports enthusiast and the Great Outdoors.

Sedgwick Rd. in Seattle recently broke a national print campaign for the sporting-goods retailer. The work, which carries the new tagline, "Get outside yourself," will run through the end of 2002. Radio, newspaper and outdoor ads will also break in the coming months.

This is the second campaign Sedg wick Rd. has completed for REI since winning the creative account in December 2000.

The agency added media duties for REI in January without a review, replacing DDB in Seattle. The shift marks the first time the client has had the same agency handling creative and media buying.

Based in the Seattle area, REI spent approximately $10 million on measured media in 2000 and $8 million in the first 11 months of 2001, according to CMR. Both the client and agency declined to disclose spending on this effort.

Stephanie Vidmar, account supervisor at Sedgwick Rd., said the new campaign is mainly focused on increasing national brand awareness. She said it targets all achievers who want to do the best they can, and push themselves to do so. "It may just be someone going for a walk on a paved path in the woods, or it could be someone climbing Everest," she said.

In all three black-and-white print executions, the top copy reads: "Man vs. Nature." But the phrase is ob scured somewhat by a message designed to be more harmonious.

For example, in one ad, two mountain bikers are speeding through the forest, and the altered copy reads: "Dirt is cleansing in Nature." The ads communicate that hiking, biking and other rugged outdoor activities are not opportunities to subdue nature.

The ads are running in Men's Journal, Backpacker, National Geographic and Sierra.

Jim Poppens, svp of marketing at REI, said this is the first fully integrated campaign for REI, noting that the look and feel of the print ads has been incorporated into all aspects of the client's marketing and communications. REI handles interactive and direct mail in-house.

Founded in 1938, REI currently operates 59 retail stores in 23 states. The company is the nation's largest consumer cooperative, claiming more than 2 million active members.