4 Things We Love About #OptOutside

It started as one retailer’s moment-in-time marketing message. It has evolved into a nationwide campaign for societal change. Here are a just a few of the things we love about #OptOutside.

By Deborah Williams November 15, 2017

1. The message is about more than Black Friday. The origin story of #OptOutside is rooted in the holiday season, so you could be forgiven for thinking it’s simply a commentary on or condemnation of consumer culture. In fact, it’s not about a moment in time but rather about a movement and a call to action for people to pursue time outdoors any and all times of the year, and especially this time of year, when we’re together with friends and family.

The average American spends 95 percent of their life indoors. —REI’s The Path Ahead report

2. Instead of copyrighted, it has been co-opted. If brand directors live by one motto, it’s this: “own the message.” It’s one of marketing’s non-negotiables. Except in this case, when the creatives who developed the #OptOutside campaign realized it had garnered attention worthy of a bigger message. Call it open-source cause marketing; call it consumer activism. We think it’s brilliant, and we’re thankful they’ve shared it with such a broad network of influencers who have, in turn, reached so many public eyeballs.

3. It is inspiring a network of enablers. There’s often a big chasm between the idealism of a cause marketing campaign and people’s reality. For too many people, even the outdoors—which are supposed to be for everyone—have barriers to entry. We’re inspired to see many organizations adopting #OptOutside in an effort to lower or eliminate those barriers. A few examples:

  • Michigan state parks will have free entry to parks and trails on Black Friday,
  • East Coast Greenway Alliance, throughout November, is encouraging people all along the East Coast to get out on the Greenway,
  • Austin Parks Foundation is launching an #OptOutside social and digital campaign, and
  • The Outdoor Foundation’s Outdoor Nation is tapping into its network of 25,000 college students participants who are making pledges to get outside this holiday weekend. So far, they’ve collected over 800 individual pledges. Check it out here and make your own pledge—and maybe score some REI gear.

4. It continues to evolve. The #OptOutside movement gained momentum almost instantly, and it will certainly continue to pick up speed. We love that this year, REI is using that momentum as a platform from which to launch an education campaign. This year, it takes the shape of a new report that looks at several ‘truths’ about outdoor participation and what they could mean for the future of outdoor recreation. In REI’s own words, The Path Ahead report “captures trends that affect the future of life outdoors. It doesn’t present the answers. It’s designed to provoke discussion…about what could happen if we stay inside as a species” versus what could happen if we all #OptOutside.

Outdoor Industry Association has been a part of the #OptOutside movement since it began, and we will continue to promote it on our channels and within our company. We want to know if your company is participating in the movement, why, why not and how. Reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn with your thoughts.