REI’s #OptOutside Brand Story Proves Marketing Should Drive Operations


November 17, 2015

REI announced it is doing the unthinkable.

The multi-billion retail giant is closing its doors on the biggest day of the year – Black Friday.


Because they’re allowing what they promise their customers through their brand story to guide their operational decisions.

For marketers everywhere, this is a big deal. And a huge inspiration.

In most companies, marketing still struggles with respect and credibility – more so in B2B than B2C companies, but B2C marketers definitely feel the pain.

REI Purpose

In REI’s case, the brand story has led how it creates experiences for customers, from classes and expert advice to REI adventure trips. These are great ways to tap into the passions of the greater outdoor community but let’s face it – all of these things still generate revenue for REI.

Closing you’re the doors of your 143 stores on Black Friday and still paying 12,000 employees to take the day off doesn’t.

Or does it?

Jerry Stritzke, president and CEO of REI, said, “Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the essential truth that life is richer, more connected and complete when you choose to spend it outside. We’re closing our doors, paying our employees to get out there, and inviting America to OptOutside with us because we love great gear, but we are even more passionate about the experiences it unlocks.”

I truly believe that REI will more than make up the lost revenue from that 24-hour window by living what they say they believe in.

Check out their OptOutside site and see how many people are already posting picture in the gallery. Close to a million people are already choosing to #OptOutside by making plans to enjoy Mother Nature instead of adding to the early holiday season crazy.

REI OptOutside

REI is putting its money where’s its brand story is by closing all 143 of its stores nationwide and encouraging everyone to opt to spend the day outside enjoying nature instead of inside shopping.


REI OptOutside Gallery

On REI’s OptOutside website, almost a million people have shared pictures of how they plan to enjoy Black Friday.


What about you?
How much do you believe in your brand story? What would it take for you to make it come alive?

Are you willing to be so bold as to believe that your marketing brand story can lead operations?

What would happen if it did? Would it create passionate fans or cause the wheels to fly off the bus?

About Carla

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author

Carla Johnson helps leaders who are often paralyzed by traditional thinking. They suffer from slow growth, an eroding competitive advantage, low employee engagement, and depleted investor confidence. Their teams lack purpose and progress and constantly battle a resistance to change and new ideas.

As the world’s leading innovation architect, Carla’s spent 20 years helping leaders shatter limits and discover undiscovered possibilities. Through years of research, she’s developed a simple, scalable 5-step process that teaches people how to consistently produce inspired ideas that lead to uncommon outcomes.