Most of the year, outdoor retailer Orvis is as intent as any other company on selling its products, from high-end fly-fishing rods to fancy dog beds to a trip to wingshooting school. But in the midst of the hectic holiday season, it’s trying a new tactic: A series of 32 stunning (and sales pitch-free) videos in a new social media campaign it’s calling #momentofchill.
“We are always looking for new ways to help connect to the wonders of the natural world,” says Phil Monahan, managing editor, digital content, for the Vermont-based company. “One of my colleagues said, ‘We have plenty of ways to sell things. What we really need is a way to talk to more people about our shared love of the outdoors.’”
So the company came up with a series of mesmerizing nature videos, most of them under one minute, showcasing “Calgon, take me away” scenery that ranges from the Rocky Mountains to New Zealand to Costa Rica. And while they’re all free of product pitches, they’re not quiet: The first video, one of the longest at over three minutes, provides plenty of birdsong, a bison grunt and gently splashing trout streams. Orvis plans to release a new video every day until Dec. 24.
Monahan says Orvis relied on contributions from video experts it works with throughout the year, including Lang Elliott, the nature sound recordist, and Tight Loops, a Rhode Island-based team that focuses on fly fishing. “And much of the video comes from people we know through our social media and ambassador programs.”
Orvis is not the first outdoor retailer to jettison sales messages for the great outdoors, just as consumers gear up for the seasonal spending frenzy. Patagonia started it all off with its “Don’t buy this jacket” ad back in 2011, and several years ago, outdoor co-op REI kicked off its #OptOutside campaign, an award-winning effort to get out of the mall and into wild on Black Friday. Orvis differs somewhat from those stores, though, in that its business is somewhat seasonal. While there are plenty of places where people fish and hunt all year round, Monahan says the period after Christmas and into March tends to be quiet.
The privately-owned Orvis, the country’s oldest mail-order company, has 80 stores in the U.S. and U.K., competes with big names like LL Bean. Cabela’s, Eddie Bauer and Bass Pro Shop. But it also goes up against many smaller, specialty retailers and outfitters.
This year, Orvis is sticking to videos and keeping the message simple. “We thought with short videos, it would be great if we could offer one brief moment of respite from everything else, and help our customers pause, destress and then reconnect with nature,” he tells Marketing Daily. “All you need to do is watch, breathe and enjoy.” Depending on response, he says it will consider expanding the campaign to include additional content next year.