In the second quarter of 2017, Xfinity commercials were televised 71,688 times in the United States. In the third quarter of 2017, Patagonia, Inc. aired its first commercial. Ever. But the term ‘commercial’ can hardly be used to describe Patagonia’s recent production, considering the video has nothing to do with commerce.
The minute-long clip is more of a public service announcement: Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard warns of the danger that the country’s current political climate poses to public lands. The video ends without a single mention of any of Patagonia’s products. Instead of persuading consumers to buy Patagonia gear, the video encourages the audience to protest government destruction of public lands by texting “DEFEND” to 52886.
The video is just one example on an ever-growing list of the company’s practices that prioritize ethics over profit. On Black Friday in 2011, the company ran an ad in the New York Times of the bold words “Don’t Buy This Jacket” above a picture of one of their classic fleeces in order to address the issue of overconsumption in the U.S.
These campaigns and other programs like Worn Wear, The Footprint Chronicles, and The New Localism have helped build the company’s image of dedication to social responsibility and environmental stewardship. But despite Patagonia’s anti-growth strategy, the trust the company has earned from its customers has helped increase sales over the past decade. The company’s Black Friday sales alone increased by 30% last year.
In 2017, the business world is projected to spend $207.3 billion in advertising, convincing consumers to buy products they don’t really need. In an age where companies are trying to persuade as many people as possible to buy as many products as possible, consumers crave the honesty and transparency of brands like Patagonia.
Patagonia’s success is a microcosm of the consumer trend of supporting businesses that are dedicated to more than profit maximization. By definition, a company that prioritizes any goal other than profit maximization is the antithesis of a business. But then again, Yvon Chouinard is not a typical businessman. He writes in the introduction to his book Let My People Go Surfing, “I’ve been a businessman for almost 60 years. It’s as difficult for me to say those words as it is for someone to admit being an alcoholic or lawyer.”
If interest in values-based companies continues to grow, it will be interesting to see if competitors adopt a similar strategy to that of Patagonia’s founder—the businessman who hates the business world.
By: Morgan Collins, Account Executive
Twitter Handle: @MCollins_EU