If you are an avid outdoor junkie, staying up-to-date on the latest trends from ski gear to the best bug spray is a way of life. It is only natural to expect these outdoor companies to do the same when keeping your attention as a consumer. It takes a special marketing campaign to stand out and there are plenty of outdoor retailers that have paved the way. Here are five companies that earned top spots in sexy marketing campaigns through the years.
The North Face: A Stone Age Solution
With the millions of outdoor products out there, it’s a struggle to stand out in crowded retail stores. So when in doubt, go back to the basics. In 2009, North Face landed on a solution that involved packaging twigs, leaves and stones as retail products and putting them out on the shelves! Their purpose was to show customers that unless you bought The North Face gear, you’d only have these items to depend on in the outdoors. This campaign boosted North Face sales by 38%. Not too shabby.
Patagonia: Honesty Is The Best Policy
In 2013, Patagonia ran a ballsy campaign telling consumers not to buy their jackets, which made its debut on Black Friday, no less. Why the hell would they do this, you ask? Don’t worry, they went on to explain their madness in the ads. After being drawn in to the eye-catching text telling consumers not to buy their beloved Patagonia jackets the ads go on to explain that each jacket they produce leaves behind a large fraction of its weight in waste. So why risk profits? It’s simple. By running this campaign they were admitting that their clothing created waste, just like any other clothing company, but they were the only ones paying to market it. In fact, their honesty helped to turn sporadic consumers into a loyal brand following. Sounds pretty smart to me. Maybe honesty really is the best policy.
Arc’Teryx: Extreme Marketing
,For those of you who are extreme outdoor enthusiasts you are probably very familiar with Arc’Teryx and their product line. In 2013, they created a pretty simple yet extreme campaign for the opening of their first U.S. storefront. One week before the opening, a series of hanging tents were strung up on the side of the building with a sign below that simply said, “lineup starts here,” with an arrow pointing up to the tents. Their goal was simple, to attract their extreme following first and curious passersby second.
GoPro: Outdoor Industry Marketing Can Be Sentimental Too
GoPro is known for their compact personal cameras that you can clip to almost anything. They have expanded their customer base with the creation of their YouTube channel featuring videos from none other than the people purchasing them. It's a genius marketing strategy where the cost is probably very minimal.
In 2013, when they released a video of a California firefighter rescuing a helpless kitten no one expected what would happen next. With GoPro's recut and sponsored footage of this hero's video, it went from 1.5 million views on YouTube to 5 million in just a week! Because of this brave consumer’s contribution, GoPro was able to market to an entirely new audience, raising sales and attracting new investors. This video showed viewers that these cameras have the capability to capture touching moments in addition to the extreme antics they are known for. Nothing is better than marketing that can tug at the heartstrings.
In addition, I regret to inform all of you animal lovers that the kitten sadly passed away from smoke inhalation shortly after the video was made.
Columbia Sportswear: Oldie But A Goodie
I saved this one for last because I am a sucker for a funny ad campaign. Years ago, Columbia Sportswear Chairwoman Gert Boyle and her son were once the advertising centerpieces for the popular outdoor brand. I am excited to announce that Gert is back (sans son). 91-year-old Gert is once again the face of Columbia’s ad campaign - #TestedTough - and it has been wildly successful.
In 2015, Columbia is taking a stand for their brand and shying away from the usual marketing of specific products and technologies. These days they are focused on showing off what the brand stands for and creating a personal relationship with consumers through Gert. This campaign is not only hilarious but it instills a sense of toughness and reliability that the brand can live up to. Take it from Gert, she has been a part of Columbia Sportswear for 50+ years. They must be doing something right.