With just days to go before the federal government decides the fate of 21 national monuments, Patagonia is running its first-ever TV ad, spending $700,000 to urge people to speak up and defend those public lands.
The ad features Yvon Chouinard, the company’s founder, who asks viewers to contact Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior, and hold him to his promise to protect the monuments. “Public lands are under threat now more than ever because you have a few self-serving politicians who want to sell them off and make money,” he says, voiced over footage of some of America’s most spectacular wildernesses. “Behind the politicians are the energy companies and the big corporations that want to use up those national resources,” he says. “It’s just greed.”
The spot then urges viewers to text Zinke, who has called those lands “our greatest treasures.” Zinke, who issued an interim report earlier this summer recommending that the 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears monument in Utah be reduced and potentially broken up, is expected to make his decision by August 24.
Patagonia says TV and radio ads are running in Montana, Zinke’s home state, as well as Utah, home to both the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments. Radio ads are also scheduled to run in Nevada, where both the Gold Butte and Basin and Range National Monuments are under threat. It also plans to run the ads on social media channels, digital media and its home page.
And while Patagonia says it believes it is the only company running ads that target the administration, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, a Montana-based organization devoted to keeping public lands available to sportsmen, is running an ad campaign directly criticizing Zinke. “What happened to Ryan Zinke?” ads ask. “He told us he would stand up for sportsmen and women…. he should fight for us. Stand up for public lands. Just like Theodore Roosevelt.”
Many brands have spent the last year trying to escape the country’s political crossfire but found themselves either attacked by those on the left if they seem friendly toward President Trump and his agenda or from the right if they seem critical. But outdoor brands are fiercely united on the monuments issue: Earlier this week, 350 companies, including Patagonia, REI, L.L. Bean and Adidas, signed a letter to Zinke from the Outdoor Industry Association, expressing concern about Bears Ears and all public lands. “As business leaders, we simply ask that your final report remain true to the Teddy Roosevelt values we share with you,” it says, “to maintain the national treasures Presidents of both parties have protected.”
The OIA says consumers spend $887 billion a year on outdoor recreation, creating 7.6 million American jobs.
In fact, for this category, a bigger risk may come from companies who don’t speak out, says Matt Powell, an analyst who follows the outdoor industry for the NPD Group, a Port Washington, New York-based market research company. “Millennials want brands to take public stands on social issues,” he tells Marketing Daily. “Outdoor brands supporting the outdoors is exactly the right message to send to their customers.”