Blog Post

Move the Meter: #OptOutside Wins the Week in Behavior-Change Marketing

It’s tough to change people’s habits — but companies keep trying with innovative new approaches
November 13, 2017

Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast or simply seeking reprieve from holiday consumerism, Recreational Equipment Inc.(REI) is inviting you to #OptOutside again this year.
The brand launched its now-infamous #OptOutside campaign in 2015 by closing its stores and giving all 12,000 employees a paid day off on Black Friday. Calling on customers and staff to go on an outdoor adventure rather than a shopping spree turned out to be a powerful publicity stunt: More than 7 million people participated.
What began as a brand-building campaign has turned into an example of the power of behavior-change marketing.
The challenge? Americans aren’t going outside as much as they used to. Less than half of all Americans reported participating in even one outdoor activity in 2016, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.
REI is adding more features to the campaign this season hoping to further boost participation.  A new outdoor activity search engine allows users to find nearby trails, lakes, parks and other adventure spots. REI also pulled together user-generated videos, curated outings such as “great hikes with dogs,” and embedded hashtags to inspire more people to explore the outdoors.
More insights from the world of communications, curated by our team:
Director of Client Services Kate Julian:
It’s been a rough month for Snap, including disappointing earnings and dropping stock price — not to mention other platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp copying its features. All that said, Snapchat is in need of a boost. So it may be no coincidence that Snapchat has finally overcome its fear of “creepy” targeted ads, according to CEO Evan Spiegal. The platform now allows advertisers to place a pixel on their sites for tracking and retargeting purposes. Although the pixels can only be used for measurement at this stage, Snapchat plans to rolls out ad targeting for specific audiences and groups by 2018. Creepy? Maybe. Effective? Snap sure hopes so.
Project Manager Kathleen Ryan:
Though beloved for our majestic mountain views, the air quality in Denver has been an ongoing concern for decades. Ozone and carbon dioxide pollution are the culprits for the larger problem, but it’s often tobacco products that dirty the air on the ground. In response, a new city ordinance will ban all forms of smoking — including cigars and e-cigarettes — from the 16th Street Mall. The “Breathe Easy” ban will take effect December 1. But is it just for show and to assuage vocal business owners in the area? A partner proposal was defeated by city council that would have required a review of the ordinance in 2019 to make sure public health and “not just public relations” was behind the ban.
Editorial Strategist Katharine Brenton:
The old journalistic cliché – “If your mother says she loves you, check it out” – is more relevant today than ever before. It’s been the most exciting year on record for fact-checkers, the bespectacled sticklers-for-the-truth who burrow down in the back of the newsroom for their essential but unglamorous work. Accusations of fake news – and actual fake news – increasingly infuse the national conversation and deepen political divisions. In this climate, the humble fact-checker might rise from unsung to outright hero, if that is, the rejection of provable facts had not become a political preoccupation. This fascinating collection of stories from Poynter underscores the severity of the impact of fake news (both real and imagined) on elections and individuals.

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