Don’t Buy This Jacket


Hello from the great IMC beyond. I’ve regained the 15-30 hours of my life each week that were devoted to IMC for most of 2010 and 2011, yet somehow 2012 feels just as busy. My job search continues, even as I’ve been lucky to pick up some contract work and consulting gigs to stay busy, earn a little money, and keep my skills fresh.

Networking is a critical part of any job search today and so I decided to get involved with PSAMA, the local Seattle chapter of the American Marketing Association. My membership materials arrived this week, including my first copy of Marketing News magazine. I flipped through the issue over dinner and, frankly, expected it to be just another trade publication — nothing special. And then, this image stopped me cold:

"Don't Buy This Jacket" ad from Patagonia

You may have seen or heard about this ad back around Black Friday. I was too busy with Campaigns to notice much of anything in the outside world at the time, so I’m glad I found this interview with Rob BonDurant (pdf) of Patagonia. BonDurant seems to have a bit of a disdain for the M in IMC, but it’s still safe to say that the lessons from this ad — which ran just one time in just one newspaper — have implications for PR, direct marketing, cause marketing, storytelling, and probably a few other areas of IMC.

Click on the image and the article link, then let me know: Had you already heard about this ad? Do you think it’s possible for a retailer to convincingly encourage reduced consumption of its products?

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3 Responses to “Don’t Buy This Jacket”

  1. Mary Says:

    Since Patagonia isn’t publicly traded, we don’t actually know if this is a losing prospect for them (though several articles imply that it _could_ be). “Yet with sales of $400 million in 2010, and likely to grow by 25% this year, according to the Wall Street Journal, Patagonia has leeway to try…Patagonia has been pursuing an agenda of the three Rs of waste reduction — reduce, reuse, and recycle — for many years. ‘Reuse’ and ‘recycle’ have proved to be doable. The company has been repairing gear since its beginning” ( buy-less message likely resonates with the core of their target customers and emphasizes the quality of Patagonia gear. In essence this message of buy less is not _that_ different than their previous messages highlighting their repair policies, though their involvement with ebay to consciously create a secondary market for Patagonia products is ( I think that this used market is a great way to indoctrinate new customers into the Patagonia way. They can get used clothes/gear at lower cost, but if Patagonia has good stuff (and they do) Patagonia is building a relationship with customers who have a pretty good likelihood of purchasing new as time goes on. I have my doubts that this campaign is a losing prospect for them in the long run.

    • Barry Says:

      Hi Mary,

      Great point on the used gear strategy. It burnishes Patagonia’s environmental cred while also demonstrating the quality of their products. Years ago, I was leery of buying products from REI due to their cost, but a friend assured me that their products were bombproof and worth the extra money. I still have many of the items from my earliest purchases today — nearly a decade later — and wouldn’t hesitate to re-sell many of them at this point because they are still in such good condition.


  2. Lauren Licata (@LaurenLicata) Says:

    Hi Barry,

    Nice post. I wrote about this campaign when it came out, and I’m thrilled that you pointed me to the interview with the VP of Mar/Comm for Patagonia. In my opinion, this campaign really hit home who they are as a company.

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