Patagonia has never run a TV commercial. Not once. In 60 years. Since its earliest roots as Chouinard Equipment, a one-man operation run out of the back of Yvon Chouinard’s car, Patagonia has grown to become one of the largest apparel companies in the world with annual revenues upwards of $500 million dollars. And the company has accomplished all of this, in the competitive apparel world where marketing is half the battle, without ever running a television advertisement. Until now, that is.
Patagonia will air its first-ever television advertisement today but it won’t be in an effort to grow profits or reach more customers. Instead, the company’s first TV spot is the outgrowth of Patagonia’s corporate conscience and its longstanding activist efforts on the front lines of issues such as fair and humane working conditions, reducing the environmental impacts of manufacturing, preserving clean air and water, educating on the mounting issues surrounding climate change and, most recently, preserving America’s public lands legacy.
It is public lands that has prompted Patagonia to make the leap into the world of television with a $700,000 investment in a minute-long spot featuring Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard.
Despite then incoming Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke stating that “our greatest treasures are public lands,” access to and the extent of America’s public lands are increasingly threatened under the current administration. Donald Trump’s executive order requesting a review of 27 of America’s national monuments has put protected lands such as Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, New Mexico’s Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters and more under threat of rescission or reduction.
America’s public lands have long been a target of special interests, through bill mills like the American Legislative Exchange Council and bought-and-sold politicians on the political fringe, such as Utah congressman Rob Bishop and former congressman Jason Chaffetz, as well as its governor, Gary Herbert. But, under the Trump administration, the Department of the Interior has publicly and unabashedly shifted gears to place fossil fuel extraction above all other land management priorities, bringing the degradation of America’s public lands into the mainstream.
In Patagonia’s 60-second spot, Chouinard outlines the value and threats to America’s public lands heritage and calls on Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to stand by his pledge to preserve our nation’s public lands.
“Public lands are under threat now more than ever because of a few self-serving politicians who want to sell them off and make money. Behind the politicians are the energy companies and the big corporations that want to use up those national resources. It’s just greed—this belongs to us—this belongs to all of the people in America,” Chouinard states bluntly in the ad spot.
To air its first television commercial, Patagonia has purchased statewide television and radio time in Montana, the home state of Secretary Zinke. Patagonia has also purchased television and radio time in Utah, home to the the hotly debated Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments, as well as in radio time in Nevada, where Gold Butte and Basin and Range National Monuments are also under threat.
In a statement, Patagonia noted that “This is not about politics or partisanship—it’s about standing up for places that belong to future generations. Patagonia wants to raise awareness of history’s lesson that when public lands are turned over to states that can’t afford to maintain them, the result is the land is often auctioned off to private companies who irrevocably damage them and deny access to them for all of us. Whether you are a hunter or a hiker, an angler or a climber, Patagonia wants you to join them in this fight to ensure access and protection for our public lands.”
Watch Patagonia's first television commercial below.
This article has been updated to correctly refer to Jason Chaffetz as a former congressman.