REI is using sponsorship to bring its brand to life.

The outdoor goods retailer—formally known as Recreational Equipment, Inc.—sponsors a mix of national properties (Ragnar Trail Series, etc.) and regional properties (Timber! Outdoor Music Festival, Pickathon Music Festival, etc.) to promote camping, hiking and other activities endemic to its brand ethos.

“We look for opportunities to bring our brand story to life by connecting to our consumers through unique experiences and memories,” said Tessa Bondi, REI outdoor programs & outreach market coordinator for Puget Sound.

The retailer accomplishes that goal with on-site activations that promote its products, travel offerings and classes.

REI will leverage the July 13-15 Timber! music festival in Carnation, Wash. with six on-site “REI Signature” tent cabins. Each camp will be outfitted with chairs, cots and other REI-centric appointments for two campers.

The retailer will use the camps to give attendees a taste of its REI Signature travel offerings.

REI will activate Timber! with two other on-site programs:

  • A fully-equipped kitchen where attendees can cook and eat with other campers
  • Free paddleboard and kayak lessons with professional guides from the REI Outdoor School

Like other retailers, REI often activates sponsorship with vendor partners. Therm-a-Rest, for example, will provide mattresses for the REI Signature Camps, while Stanley has provided commemorative stainless steel mugs for Timber’s beer garden.

“Timber does a phenomenal job of finding partners that align with the festival’s look and feel, and many are our vendors whose products we happen to sell.”

REI also looks for cross-promotional opportunities with companies it does not work with. Secret Aardvark, for example, has provided hot sauce for cooking demonstrations in the REI kitchen.

In addition to scouting cross-promotional opportunities with relevant cosponsors, Bondi applauds Timber! for its responsiveness to short notice requests.

“They are supportive when we come to them a month out and want to try something new,” said Bondi, pointing to requests over the past few years for on-site photographers for a social media campaign and a pop-up store as examples.

“We aren’t a company that just wants to be there. We want to create a better experience,” said Bondi, who oversees strategic partnerships for eight REI stores in western Washington State.

REI has promoted Timber! in its Seattle flagship store and customer email blasts, said Phil O’Sullivan, general manager and partner with Artist Home, an event production and sponsorship agency that owns the Timber! music fest.

Other REI sponsorships in the Puget Sound region include the Cascade Bicycle Club, around which the retailer sponsors food stops during the club’s annual ride from Seattle to Portland.