Extra Credit Blog
REI an outdoor retailer announced its plans to close its doors on Black Friday and while many believe it is genius others are skeptical that the company is creating a PR stunt. The reasoning behind this decision is to give the company’s 12,000 employees a paid day off to enjoy with friends and family. As part of a bigger campaign the company created #OptOutside to try to get people to spend time with friends and family outside rather than fight over clothing products in a poorly lit store at 3 a.m.
Of the skeptics, Jim Joseph, Cohn & Wolfe’s president of the Americas and chief integrated marketing officer, believes that the company is “using the announcement to exploit its positioning and ultimately promote its products.”
The company replies, “If it was just a PR stunt, we wouldn’t be closing down our stores for the day,” Ben Steele, REI’s chief creative officer, told PRWeek. “It is a very real action and wasn’t a decision we took lightly.”
What shocked me about the company’s decision was that Black Friday is one of REI’s top 10 sales days.
The campaign used three PR firms to help create and facilitate the idea. These three PR firms include Edelman, Spark, and Venables Bell & Partners.
Ultimately, this reminded me that companies are steering away from force feeding their product down the consumers mouth, but instead becoming a company with values that outweigh those of numbers and dollar signs.