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Leon Kaye headshot

Patagonia’s First TV Ad Buy Urges Support for Public Lands

By Leon Kaye


Patagonia has been leading the charge against what the company says are relentless threats imposed on U.S. public lands from the Trump White House and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. And now the outdoor gear designer and retailer is taking its activism further with a first-ever television advertising buy:

This is the first time the company has run a television ad campaign in 45 years of business. Patagonia felt compelled to purchase television and radio advertising time in Zinke’s home state of Montana in order to remind him of comments he made last year. “Our greatest treasures are public lands,” Mr. Zinke had said during a June 2016 speech. “It is not a partisan issue. It is an American issue.”

Zinke ended up deciding not to rescind any of the 22 national monuments under review. If he had, it would have challenged a 111-year-old law that gives the sitting U.S. president broad authority to protect public lands. As of press time, he proposed that four national monuments have their boundaries redrawn;  however, the report outlining the changes has not been publicly released. The lack of transparency has upset several senators, including U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, who said in a public statement, “The American people have the right to see his entire report. A proposal to strip protections from public lands should be made public immediately.”

Patagonia will also purchase airtime in Utah and Nevada, states where activists say national monuments are under threat. Although the fallout from the violence in Charlottesville two weeks ago has nudged companies to speak out even more boldly against the Trump Administration, Patagonia’s executives believe even more can be done to take a stand. “We don’t know of any other company currently running persuasion ads on television targeting the administration, and for us, this is an issue we have been advocating for since our founding,” the company said in a public statement.

The advertisement features the company’s founder, Yvon Chouinard. He minced no words when he offered his take on current goings on in Washington, D.C. “Public lands have never been more threatened than right now,” Chouinard explains during the one-minute segment, “because you have a few self-serving politicians who want to sell them off and make money.”

The television commercial ends with an appeal to citizens to text “DEFEND” to 52886 before Zinke announces his decision.

Patagonia has been sticking it to the Trump Administration from the beginning, and has also lashed out at Utah’s congressional delegation for insisting on a rollback on national monument designations. Upon the White House’s floating of proposals to sell off or downgrade some public lands, Patagonia and other outdoor retailers such as REI have launched public relations offensives demanding that these lands be accessible to all U.S. citizens and visitors.

After Utah’s state leadership continued to push for a reversal of federal protection granted for public lands such as Bears Ears National Monument, Patagonia withdrew from a major outdoor retailer trade show event scheduled earlier this year in Salt Lake City. Other manufacturers and retailers expressed their support; the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show will be held in Denver starting next year.

In summing up Patagonia’s stance, Chouinard was succinct and to the point. “This belongs to us. This belongs to all of the people in America. It’s our heritage. I hope my kids and grandkids will have the same experiences that I have,” he said as the advertisement concludes.

Image credit: Bureau of Land Management/Flickr

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye