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Brief Published: 13 Sep 2016

Patagonia Gets Political with Green Campaign

American ethical fashion brand Patagonia has launched a campaign ahead of November’s US presidential elections to raise awareness of environmental issues. According to the brand, Vote Our Planet “is designed to rally people in every corner of America to set aside their frustration with America’s divisive political atmosphere and vote purposefully with the environment as their top issue.” Patagonia, which donates 1% of sales to green causes, is spending $1m on the campaign.

The current political climate is the most volatile it has ever been, and brands are beginning to see opportunities for deeper engagement with disillusioned consumers through more forthright campaigning around important issues. “Many young voters feel disenfranchised by politics,” said Patagonia founder and owner Yvon Chouinard. “But if they voted in full force, and voiced the urgency of the environmental crisis, politicians would have to take their issues seriously.”

The Patagonia project follows on from a similarly politically engaged piece of marketing by US rum brand Captain Morgan. In July 2016, it came out in favour of lowering the age limit for presidential candidates, in a bid to appeal to millennial voters. The Under35POTUS campaign hasn’t quite caught fire, as it feels somewhat dissociated from the personality of the brand. In contrast, Patagonia has a long history of activism around sustainability issues, making Vote The Planet more of a natural extension of its core identity.

We explore the challenges and opportunities around taking a politically charged position in our upcoming report Brands Take a Stand – part of our forthcoming Macro Trend The Currency of Dissent.

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