As part of its “Access Outdoors” campaign launched last month, outdoor gear retailer REI shot three two-minute long Facebook 360-degree videos to target urban, multicultural millennials in Austin, Chicago and Los Angeles. In the videos, REI documented eight artists working on installations in the three cities with the goal of making the outdoors more accessible to young urbanites.

“Art and the outdoors have had a long, historical relationship but we wanted to explore that from a more urban point of view,” said Laura Swapp, director of public affairs and next-gen marketing at REI. “We wanted to use art as a medium for connecting with multicultural millennials and encourage them to expand their view of where the outdoors starts and stops.”

The interactive videos feature local artists — Christina Angelina and Yoskay Yamamoto in Los Angeles, Lauren Feece, Ruben Aguirre and Esteban del Valle in Chicago and Roshi K, Niz, and Frederico Archuleta in Austin — in cities with a large multicultural millennial audience, a vibrant art scene and a strong REI presence.

As the artists complete their works, they also share their views of how art intersects with the outdoors in their cities and their creative process. In the Austin video titled “Art, Keeping Austin Weird,” for example, Eleanor Heransimchuck explains how she draws inspiration from everything from the way the water looks in the city’s Green Belt on a certain day to a weathered down fire hydrant on the street. The video has gotten over 241,000 views.

REI used publisher Vix to produce and share the videos, whose audience is 65 percent Hispanic and 12 percent Black, according to comScore. The strategy was led by Spark Communications. The 360-video effort racked up more than 822,000 views on Facebook and reached more than 1.5 million Facebook users.

“We know that virtual reality and 360 videos are popular but not all brands are able to execute them authentically,” said Terrance Nixon, senior media experience producer at Mediavest|Spark. “Each of our local artists not only represent their cities but also shared their work with their audience before, during and after the videos were shot.”

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