Most retailers lured shoppers to their
this Black Friday and Cyber Monday with ads promising deals that
were too good to pass up
But outerwear retailer Patagonia effectively tried to do the
opposite. It tried to lure shoppers away.
"Don't buy this jacket,"
Patagonia's Black Friday and Cyber Monday ad
. The company took out a full-page ad in The New York Times on
Friday and sent an email to about 750,000 subscribers Monday with
the ad embedded. In the ad, Patagonia features one of its
best-selling jackets, the R2.
The aim was to draw attention to Patagonia's Common Threads
initiative, which advocates against the overconsumption of Black
Friday and asks shoppers to only buy what they need.
"We can't solve the environmental problem on our own,"
Christina Speed, Patagonia's marketing director, told IBTimes in
a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. "We are a business. We want
to grow. The awareness level of what everything really costs is
really our goal."
According to Patagonia's email to its customers, the R2 jacket
requires 135 liters of water, which it said was equal to the
daily needs of 45 people. The ad also points out that that the
jacket leaves behind two-thirds of its weight in waste, and
generates nearly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide in its
transportation form factory to warehouse.
"We had a bunch of products up there," Speed said of the
decision to include the top-selling R2 jacket in the company's
ad. "We thought it would just be bold enough if we put a
bestseller in the final ad. We wanted to make sure it was
something that was really valuable to us as a business, and how
much strain it put on the environment."
Besides the add in the Times and the email, Patagonia also
promoted its stance through a blog post on its Web site and
through an op-ed piece by Rick Ridgeway, its vice president of
environmental initiatives, in The Los Angeles Times.
But the ad did lead to some criticism from blogs and on
Twitter, some of which called Patagonia hypocritical. Others
noted the fact that nothing actually prevented customers from
purchasing the jacket. But Speed said most of the reaction sent
to the company and on Twitter was positive.
"Whenever we do something crazy, we get both the negative and
the positive," Speed said. "And we're happy to open that kind of
dialogue. ... If someone pays attention at all, I think they'd
have a hard time calling us hypocrites."
For years, Speed said, Patagonia has considered the idea of
closing brick-and-mortar stores or halting sales on its Web site
on Black Friday and, more recently, Cyber Monday.
But that's usually where the company reaches its "comfort
"We don't want to promote not making money. We're a business,"
Speed said. "We put that ad out there to raise awareness about
small steps that can make a huge difference."
"You don't have to martyr yourself to change the world, we
think, in this case. We're not promoting an end to business. We
think business is one of the most powerful tools for change. We
prove nothing if we're not successful."
Patagonia's ad encourages customers to take a pledge to reduce
their environmental footprint. It stresses five "R" words --
reduce, repair, reuse, recycle and reimagine.
Speed said the company could not promote any of those ideas if
the company was not successful.
"Who's going to listen to us if we're not profitable?"