Corporate Social Responsibility, Advocacy and Branding

An avid reader of the New York Times, I logged on to get my daily morning intake of business, environmental, science, political and world news.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was a Patagonia call-to-action ad. It wasn’t imploring me to purchase any of Patagonia’s clothing; instead it was asking me to put my support behind the protection of public lands in Utah, an issue important to the company, its employees and, most likely, the vast majority of its audience (consumers).

Patagonia is in the midst of an integrated communications campaign, using paid advertising, earned media and owned channels (Patanogia.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn) to create awareness and connect interested persons to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and other elected officials. They are using Phone2Action, a site that allows organizations to connect supporters with elected officials, to drive a lot of the direct contact. Patagonia has built a well-thought-out campaign that incorporates opportunities for tracking and reporting success.

Companies large and small have been championing issues important to them for years (MP&F does this in part through our pro-bono work). One of the draws to me as a Patagonia customer is not just that the rugged, well-made clothing fits my personal fashion and needs-based taste, but that Patagonia puts its money where its mouth is. Even beyond this campaign, Patagonia has several programs that allow employees to support environmental work. As the company states on its website, “… the protection and preservation of the environment isn’t what we do after hours. It’s the reason we’re in business and every day’s work.”

Through Patagonia’s advocacy, while indirectly pushing their products, they are further strengthening the brand. They’ve built trust with their customers by producing time- and wear-tested gear and clothing. The advocacy adds a deeper layer of credibility. When I purchase an item from Patagonia, I know it’s not just going to the company, it’s also going to help an issue important to me. At the end of the day, Patagonia proves that it’s all about knowing your client and customer. And that makes good business sense.

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A screenshot of Patagonia’s ad on The New York Times’ website, dated Wednesday, March 8, 2017.

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