REI Blows Up Inflatable Billboard

Outdoor sports retailer REI has blown up an inflatable billboard campaign.

The rugged retailer launched it’s first transitional, inflatable billboard with multiple reveals used to communicate sale information. The “billboard,” created by REI, Spark and production partner MMT is actually a huge (46′ 4″) inflatable, iconic REI sleeping bag on a billboard in Philadelphia. The bag debuted with viewers seeing the sleeping bag nearly closed, illustrating that the sale is set to arrive.

The sleeping bag covers the entire billboard and has gone through multiple reveals, with each transition revealing more information about its upcoming anniversary sale. The whole REI inflatable sleeping bag promotion is supported with additional out-of-home in the Philadelphia market, as well as digital, audio and newspaper media.

This campaign seems like an attempt to stand out, inspire, and be conversationally contagious. Sure, people might start talking about the giant inflatable sleeping bag they saw on a billboard; but how much? How often? And will these discussions translate into higher sales?

When you google “sleeping bag billboard”, REI’s brand or its sale is nowhere to be found! This is an epic failure in an attempt to go viral and trigger the appropriate word-of-mouth discussions. Instead of wasting time trying to get some “Oohs” and “Aahs” by making this sleeping bag look realistic and transitionally unzipping, maybe REI should have just gotten to the point right away and uncover the whole darn thing.

Seems like a lotta hot air.