How REI Is Expanding Its Blockbuster #OptOutside Campaign for 2016

Subaru and Google join the effort

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When REI announced it would close its doors on Black Friday last year and encourage its customers to enjoy the outdoors instead, it created a campaign that resonated with countless consumers—and won basically every advertising award on the planet, including accolades from The One Show, the Cannes Lions and the Clio Awards. Today, REI announced it would continue #OptOutside this year, and expand the campaign to include 275 other national and local organizations.

REI will not only shut down (both on and offline) on Black Friday, it will also pay all of its employees to take the day off. Brands joining in the effort include Subaru of America, which will provide a fleet of vehicles in New York so dog owners can take their own pups or shelter dogs into nature; and Google, which will work with REI to support outdoor-focused nonprofits in Seattle and Austin, starting with the Washington Trails Association and the Shoal Creek Conservancy. Outdoor brands Arc'teryx, Big Agnes, Burton, KEEN, Kuhl, Outdoor Research, prAna and Yeti will post about the effort on their social media channels.

Nonprofits and government agencies participating in #OptOutside include hiking and outdoor advocacy groups, The National Parks Service and The National Park Foundation. The Trust for Public Land will host an event in San Francisco to raise awareness for the program, and The Sierra Club will post about #OptOutside on its social media channels.

REI also launched an outdoor activity finder on the campaign's website, where visitors can find nearby trails and parks, upload photos and connect with nonprofits that help protect the outdoors.

"As a nation we're still spending over 90 percent of our lives indoors and it's a trend we need to tackle," said REI CEO Jerry Stritzke in a statement. "The moment we announced our decision last year, people who build their lives around the outdoors really embraced the idea of reclaiming Black Friday. It took on a life of its own and became about much more than REI."

@ChristineBirkne Christine Birkner is a Chicago-based freelance writer who covers marketing and advertising.