Patagonia: 'The president stole your land'
Patagonia on Monday replaced its home page with a black screen that reads "The President Stole Your Land," with the sub-heading "In an illegal move, the president just reduced the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. This is the largest elimination of protected land in American history."
Once visitors of the site click "Learn More," the website encourages them to take action on social media by tweeting their thoughts directly at the president. There is no e-commerce or sales information on the site at all at the moment; Patagonia did not immediately respond to Retail Dive's request for more information.
Yvon Chouinard, founder of the outdoor gear retailer, on Monday told CNN he plans to sue President Donald Trump. "It seems the only thing this administration understands is lawsuits," he said. "I think it's a shame that only 4% of American lands are national parks. Costa Rica's got 10%. Chile will now have way more parks than we have. We need more, not less. This government is evil and I'm not going to sit back and let evil win."
Patagonia’s stark home page is an unusual move at a time when retailers are pulling out all the stops to capture all-important holiday sales. But this isn't the first political stance the company has taken. This summer, the brand’s first-ever television ad was a bid for customers and environmentalists to stand up against the Trump administration and defend America’s public lands. The company also shuttered its 29 U.S. stores and its corporate and distribution operations on Election Day to drive traffic to voting booths and bring attention to environmental issues.
Chouinard isn't the only one who maintains that Trump's move is illegal. Several Native American tribes have condemned the president's decision, announced in Utah on Monday, to sign two presidential proclamations that shrink the size of two land monuments in the state: Bears Ears National Monument by more than 80% and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by roughly 45%. The Hopi, Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni tribal governments on Monday jointly filed a legal complaint against the administration in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
"President Trump’s illegal action is a shameful attack on Tribes, and it will not stand," Zuni Tribal Councilman Carleton Bowekaty said in an email to Retail Dive. "The President’s action is without legal authority and without respect for the Native Americans that worked for decades to protect these resources. His proposal is a strong statement to Tribes across the nation that Native American values and interests are not important to the Trump administration."
The bold environmental stance is on brand for Patagonia, which last year also donated 100% of its Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental organizations. The donation is in addition to the 1% of annual sales the company already gives to such groups, which as of last year totaled $74 million.
Wading into political territory may seem unwise for a retailer that wants to cater to a wide swath of the population, but Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario last year said that protecting the environment "is not in conflict with running a successful business." The company also supports reducing carbon emissions, building a modern energy economy with renewables and ensuring the United States commits to the Paris Climate agreement.
That stance has not just the clear support of the brand's own founder, but, evidence suggests, likely its customers as well. Consumers want companies to take a stand in political issues, according to research by policy and communications firm Global Strategy Group, which in 2014 found that 80% of respondents believe corporations should take action on important issues in society, up from 72% a year before.
Follow Daphne Howland on Twitter