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Walking the Talk
Patagonia Blacks Out Homepage, Calls on Consumers to Protect Public Lands

Outdoor retailer Patagonia is no stranger to throwing its weight behind worthy causes, particularly those aligned with its mission to “use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” In the past, this has included shuttering its doors on Election Day to highlight pressing environmental issues, donating 100 percent of its Black Friday sales to environmental organizations, calling for a boycott of the Outdoor Retailer trade show and focusing its first-ever TV ad on the protection of public lands:

Further down the page, Patagonia provides maps of each Monument, illustrating the extent to which they have been affected — 80 percent for Bears Ears and 45 percent for Grand Staircase-Escalante. The company also expressed the potential damage the move could do to the outdoor recreation economy, which currently contributes a whopping 7.6 million jobs and $887 billion in annual consumer spending, not to mention the public’s access to public lands.

“It is a myth that more public lands are needed for oil and gas development,” the website says. “90 percent of U.S. public lands are open to oil and gas leasing and development; only 10 percent are protected for recreation, conservation and wildlife. Over 7,500 approved drilling permits on federal land are undrilled and idled. In 2015, oil companies produced 175 million barrels of crude oil from federal lands, up 60 percent from 2008.”

Patagonia then urges consumers to take action, either by supporting groups fighting to protect public lands across the country or making their voices heard via a Twitter campaign.

While consumers are increasingly demanding that brands take action on social and environmental issues, it’s still a risky business — it has the potential to isolate swaths of the population. But taking a strong environmental stance is on brand for Patagonia — and it seems to be working.

According to Phone2Action — the digital advocacy and engagement software that enables organizations to connect supporters and other stakeholders with elected officials, which Patagonia is using for this campaign — since its launch on December 4th, the campaign has already prompted more than 120,000 people to take action, sending more than 70,000 tweets to President Trump and Secretary Zinke, making it one of the largest Twitter-focused campaigns ever using the Phone2Action platform.

Patagonia has been deploying a range of advocacy tools since the launch of its public lands campaign in February 2017 and promoting ways for people to take action in their stores via Phone2Action’s mobile engagement tools. For this phase of the campaign, Phone2Action’s proprietary Twitter advocacy tool offered the opportunity to connect advocates and lawmakers. Previous phases have included comment writing, Facebook and connecting advocates to the Department of the Interior over the phone.

“The boldness of this week’s campaign — in terms of message, design and placement — is really unprecedented, especially for a brand as recognizable as Patagonia,” Jeb Ory, CEO of Phone2Action, told Sustainable Brands via email. “It’s not political — it’s issue advocacy. Brands have traditionally shied away from issue advocacy, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that consumers today are looking for more than just a product on a shelf. They are looking for brands that reflect their own values and take action on the issues that matter to them. This is really a new era for advocacy, brands and for consumers. Other brands are starting to do the same and people across the board, even those who disagree with the specific issues admire the boldness.”

Ory says the issue will next move to the judicial branch in the form of lawsuits and injunctions seeking to keep the designated land from being altered. “There will likely be a civic component to this element as well,” he said. “So, stay tuned for what’s to come.”


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