Outdoor Brand Tagline Proves Test of Time

We hope all the outdoor brands and retailers had an amazing time at Outdoor Retailer in Denver last week. We were not there this year, but very much want a client that gives us reason to be there next year.

What I did notice last week in Atlanta was REI’s outdoor billboard that sits atop their store for all of I-85 to see, using the tagline FIND OUT (maybe it’s just a campaign theme now). To me, that is awesome, amazing and makes me really happy. Why? Because my partner and I wrote that tagline for them about 11 years ago! We came up with it while we were working at BBDO and part of the team working on the new business pitch for REI’s advertising agency of record. I actually remember it well—my creative partner Scott Biear and I were sitting on a patio at Starbucks concepting directions.

I still have the notebook page (somewhere!) that I scribbled all the reasons this tagline did so much heavy lifting for the brand and what it stands for… they are a co-op, and therefore, one of their important missions is to educate members and consumers about the outdoors. We wanted them to be seen as a place where you could learn (FIND OUT), not just shop. We wanted to inspire curiosity (FIND OUT) about the outdoor world and make REI feel like a place where you could go to ask the questions (FIND OUT) you have about being more active in the outdoors. We wanted to give a platform to their educational (FIND OUT) seminars. And maybe most of all, but also the most straight forward and obvious, we wanted people to get outside more, we wanted people to actively seek the outdoors, or to FIND OUT.

The tagline is perfect for REI and most likely why they went back, because it works as multiple meanings. It works as a question and an aspirational directive. As we say in advertising, it has legs.

Am I jealous the #OptOutside campaign that Venables Bell & Partners came up with and won just about every advertising award available? Yes. But to be fair, that campaign is more than marketing. It is a business initiative. There are big ideas in advertising and marketing, and then there are big ideas that are business strategies. To get millions and millions of people to talk about them, it takes bravery from inside the walls of a company. The entire C-Suite needs to believe and be willing to implement a business operations strategy that supports such an effort. You can read all about it here. The short of it is that the Head of Merchandising mentioned it would be cool to “close the stores on Black Friday” to an internal brainstorming group. Proof that ideas can come from anywhere and not just a creative department. But the agency molded it well and agencies are often who come up with big ideas like this, but it always takes internal support.

At Seed Factory, we love working with outdoor and sport brands. I couldn’t be happier than to see the tagline for REI has stood the test of time.

Example of one of the ads that showed the tagline at work during BBDO’s pitch for the business.
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