Overindulgence in good food and holiday merriment has finally come to an end (at least for a couple of weeks) and I’m back with a clear head focused on marketing wellness for the rest of 2016. 

Last weekend it was reported that this was a record year for Black Friday online shopping, but my thoughts shifted to another Black Friday activity: #OptOutside. 

In 2015, outdoor clothing company REI rolled out a novel idea. It closed its doors to shoppers and paid its employees to #optoutside. The movement to spend time outdoors on Black Friday quickly became trending news with approximately 2.7 billion PR impressions in 24 hours. More than 150 retailers followed the trend to close their doors and opt outside, too. The campaign rightfully won a lot of attention as well as a prestigious award at the 2016 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Check out the reel below.

Why was it so successful? Because REI chose to go against the grain in a big way and took a positive risk. Knowing their audience would most likely embrace the idea of opting outdoors, they went for it. 

Wildly successful campaigns like this one raise the question, how can we create something similar and achieve trending success for our clients, organizations or personally? To me, the formula is a simple one, but the components and execution are the tricky part.

Here’s the simple Remember Marketing formula for trending success:

Know your target audience (really find out what motivates them) + Do something unexpected that they will embrace (OptOutsideTheNorm) = Trending Success

For a brand like REI, the motivation to spend a day outdoors made perfect sense for their target audience. But for other brands, getting the right formula for what motivates your customer can take some work. The doing something unexpected part can be a challenge—it’s those ideas that you may think are too out of the ordinary that are typically the ones that stick. In this case, REI’s idea can be extended to marketing too: #OptOutsideTheNorm and go against the grain. In this “opt outside zone” you will most likely find success. 

How will you opt outside the norm this week? I challenge you to take a positive risk!

Shannon P.R.