Wednesday, November 30

Don't Buy This Jacket

In marketing, timing is everything.  Which is why the Black Friday and Cyber Monday release of a "shocking" Patagonia advertising campaign got everyone a twitter.  While the rest of the country is caught up in massive massive consumerism, here is Patagonia telling us not to buy their products.  Unless you really need them.  Why?  Because it takes a lot of resources to make that jacket and we shouldn't waste those resources if we really don't need to.  Wow!  Or better yet, but a used one because it lasts so long that it'll still be in great shape!  Double wow!

Talk about taking a stand!  Talk about turning left when everyone else is turning right!  Talk about getting talked about!

Here my friend Gwen Korbel asks (and answers) the question .... but is this smart marketing?  

What's your experience, Gwen?  Jim.

AdFreak (and it's parent AdWeek) teased a little piece of marketing in my twitter-feed on Monday: "Don't buy this jacket." @Patagonia's self-hating holiday appeal as #AdOfTheDay.

It caught me off guard and immediately got me thinking ... is this smart of the brand?

This Patagonia initiative certainly isn't smart because AdFreak says so (just because it's Ad of the Day).  It isn't smart because it's original (it isn't original at all -- the brand did something similar, albeit on a smaller scale, in their catalog years ago).  And it isn't smart just
 because it's attention-getting (although it certainly is).

What makes this smart marketing is that the message is true to Patagonia's brand. (note from Jim:  ahhh, yes!)

Patagonia has long tried to be a conservationist company:  i
n 1989they founded the Conservationist Alliance in partnership with fellow outdoor industry companies REI, The North Face, and Kelty.  Their products are built to last, which reduces the need to replace the gear, which helps the environment and should increase brand loyalty.  (It does nothing to dampen the desire for new things, which is arguably the driver for a good deal of consumer purchases.)

Smartest thing about the campaign, though, is that Patagonia is being straight-forward with their consumers, particularly those of a like mind.  The brand admits that while they're "in business to make and sell products,"
 that it would be hypocritical for them "to work for environmental change without encouraging customers to think before they buy."   

Patagonia acknowledges that they themselves are still in an aspirational phase, that they are still working towards a goal of everything they sell being "useful, multifunctional where possible, long lasting, beautiful but not in thrall to fashion."  And anyone working in sustainability knows that it is a work in progress and that it's a never ending goal.

So is it smart to tell people not to buy your products?  Read the brand's own blog entry on the initiative and decide for yourself how smart they've been (or not).

- Gwen Korbel 

1 comment:

  1. to stay in business when all the products ultimately become multifunctional and long-lasting and nobody needs a new jacket...