Patagonia’s Worn Wear Strategy

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I stumbled upon an interesting article in theCMO Strategy section in this months Advertising Age Magazine highlighting a brand strategy from Patagonia, the outdoor clothing brand and preservation company. This segment was memorable because it highlighted a brand strategy put forth by Patagonia’s VP-Marketing, Joy Howard that took an unconventional approach to pre-holiday marketing. As Black Friday has been getting increasingly competitive by marketers exploiting the aggressive needs of the nations consumer habits Patagonia decided to take a different strategic route. In short Ms. Howard’s brand strategy was subtly encouraging consumers to curb their “Black Friday” spending and urging them hold onto what they currently have by deploying a short documentary style film.

The goal of Ms. Howards short film, which was entitled “Worn Wear”, was produced primarily to educate its current consumers and the general public by showcasing a small variety of real Patagonia consumer lifestyles and how they interact with their products. Worn Wear Patagonia short film was very powerful as it aimed to position the Patagonia product to stand out from competition such as REI, L.L. Bean, North Face, et cetera by emphasizing how ethically responsible Patagonia is. The short film “Worn Wear” is a branding success as it quickly touches on the number rule in branding, establishing trust. Trust in both Patagonia as a company and its products were shown by a series of compelling personal stories and documentary style interviews that reinforced the brands core values and importance of the “journey”. The subjects documented in “Worn Wear” acted as the emotional catalyst by the stories that were told and since Patagonia’s products are such an important part in their lives. All of the subjects that were documented showed what Patagonia products have been with them for years and what elements of the product were weathered and worn. The most important element of the “Worn Wear” documentary was listening to the subjects discusses the history of their Patagonia products, especially the story of the instructor at a remote surf camp in Baja Mexico. This surf camp instructor explained how significant his board shorts were to him by the sheer number of years he has had the shorts. He described the variety of ways he has repaired the shorts over the years and what journeys the shorts were a part of.

Patagonia has historically empowered its marketing team to take a more ethics-driven and unconventional approach to developing brand strategy and deploying its marketing communication pieces. The author of this Advertising Age article, Meredith Derby Berg, mentioned that Patagonia does not currently have an agency of record and produces all communications in-house. Ms. Howard’s “pre-holiday” brand strategy was a success in my opinion as it significantly showed how Patagonia is a part of its consumers life by how it enhances their lives and solves problems. Another point for Patagonia was the decision to convey the concept in a documentary style film.

We like to think of ourselves as storytellers first and a marketing company second. In today’s complex and noise filled marketplace consumers are forced to filter out most of the marketing and communication efforts produced by companies and the advertising community. This ever-expanding level of communication filtration has made it increasingly difficult for companies to connect with its consumers on the emotional levels needed to instill trust in their brands promises. Our goal is to connect with your consumers using a variety of online and offline marketing mediums to strengthen your brands perception, showcase their attributes, educate, increase the awareness and most importantly gain the trust of the consumer.

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