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By Kristen Harlow, @KrisEveHarlow

The Clio Awards (website linked here) is a yearly awards program that recognizes the best advertising in the industry – and thusly, the world. Each year the best of all forms of advertising are awarded at this event, and let me tell you, the winners do not disappoint. The 2016 winners – especially the Clio Grand winners – were phenomenal. Even if you hate all kinds of advertising, it’s nearly impossible to despise any of this year’s recipients. From print, to commercials, to guerilla marketing, this year’s selection was filled with creativity and streamlined genius.

Perhaps my favorite of the 2016 Clio winners was REI’s #OptOutside campaign. The idea was to shut down every REI on Black Friday in order to get people to do what the retailer promotes: getting outside. It’s brilliant! Simple, different, and effective. This campaign (which is more than worth it to check out, here) earned 6.7 billion media impressions and was joined by many other stores nationwide, and even had the support of a few national parks, who opened their gates for free on Black Friday. Not only is the #OptOutside campaign an example of strong guerilla marketing (REI made #OptOutside stickers, patches, Thanksgiving meal boxes, and an online generator to find trails near you), but it’s also an excellent example of a brand sticking to its values and reaping massive benefits as an outcome.


REI Thanksgiving Food Boxes.jpg

REI Thanksgiving Meal Box from everythingaboutdesign.com




#OptOutside Sticker & Patch Design available on Ebay


Part of what makes this campaign so memorable is its variance from the norm. People expect big retailers to be open and have huge sales on Black Friday, but REI decided to stay closed. While that in and of itself may not seem like much – after all, there are many smaller stores that stay closed the day after Thanksgiving – what made it really unique was that REI branded itself through the closing. REI promoted their values through this campaign, as well as something most people can get behind: an adventurous (and vaguely healthy) lifestyle. I believe that is why #OptOutside was such a hit and why it ultimately won a Clio Grand.

If one day I’m fortunate enough to own and operate my own advertising firm, we’re going to create unbeatable guerilla advertising. We will create content that promotes quality core values in a unique and clever way. And we will be successful.

Mark my words.