Patagonia’s first-ever television ad, which aired Sunday and cost the company $700,000, is a bid for customers and environmentalists to stand up against the Trump administration and defend America’s public lands, according to Media Post.
In April, President Trump issued an executive order instructing the U.S. Department of the Interior to review all national monument Presidential designations made since 1996 that affect more than 100,000 acres. At the time, Patagonia joined REI and the Outdoor Industry association in blasting the recommendation, which is expected to be decided upon Thursday.
Patagonia's ad targets Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in particular, who issued an interim report earlier in the year suggesting the Bears Ears monument in Utah (which is 1.35 million acres) should be reduced or broken up. Patagonia is running TV and radio ads in Zinke’s home state of Montana and in Utah (where Bears Ears is located), along with radio ads in Nevada, which also faces threats to several national monuments.
Far from the colorful ads and simple messaging that led Target’s back-to-school campaign, Patagonia’s first television ad took a serious tone that fell in line with the outdoor retailer’s brand message.
Narrated by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, the ad is both a celebration of public lands and a call to action for fans of the brand and environmentalists more broadly. Chouinard’s narration is voiced over panning shots of the landscape and emphasizes the role that the outdoors plays in Chouinard’s personal life and in his business strategy. More importantly, though, the ad urges viewers to defend public lands that are coming under threat.
"Public lands have never been more threatened than right now," Chouinard said in the ad, "Because you have a few self-serving politicians who want to sell them off and make money. Behind the politicians are the energy companies and the big corporations that want to use up those natural resources. It’s just greed."
The ad finishes by instructing viewers to "not let [Zinke] back down" on protecting national monuments and provides a number that viewers can text to show their support for the movement.
Although unconventional, Patagonia’s first TV ad is reminiscent of previous efforts by the outdoors retailer to raise awareness — and funds — for environmental causes. On Black Friday 2016, the company donated 100% of its profits to grassroots environmentalist causes and the retailer also closed its doors on Election Day in order to drive more traffic to the polls and bring attention to environmental issues using a campaign called #VoteOurPlanet.
While many retailers are loathe to take a side when it comes to politics, especially with the backlash that retailers like Reebok, New Balance, Under Armour and Dolce & Gabbana have received for voicing their political opinions, Patagonia seems highly secure in the strategy. Part of the reason for this is that much of Patagonia’s consumer base also feel strongly about the environment and remain loyal to the brand because of it.
Indeed, 55% of Gen Z say they choose brands that are eco-friendly and socially responsible, demonstrating just how powerful strong brand messages like Patagonia’s can be. The outdoors retailer also stressed unity in its TV spot, reaching out to customers in an effort to make them feel like an important player in the cause Patagonia champions — a good move for both targeting loyal millennial customers and Gen Z employees.
"This belongs to us," Chouinard declares in the spot. "This belongs to all of the people in America. It’s our heritage."