Patagonia, the outdoor apparel company, has formally launched its “Vote The Environment” campaign in advance of the presidential election this November 2008. The aggressive three-part campaign asks customers to (1) register to vote, (2) educate themselves on the environmental records of candidates and (3) place the environment at the top of their priority list in the voting booth. Due to its strong environmental slant, “Vote The Environment” places Patagonia at risk of customer criticism. However, the company is willing to shoulder the consequences for an issue it believes trumps sales. www.VoteTheEnvironment.org
“‘Vote The Environment’ proves that businesses can act as environmental advocates in the U.S. election process,” notes Casey Sheahan, president and CEO of Patagonia, “We’re using our story-telling and marketing expertise to get this message out during a critical time in our country’s history. We know that some customers may be put off by the strong environmental message. Not all our customers are environmentalists. But we are. And we believe deeply that the environment is the foundation we all stand on. Every other major social concern — from energy to foreign policy — hinges on the health of the planet.”
Patagonia will promote “Vote The Environment” through all three of its selling channels — retail stores, wholesale accounts and the Web. The campaign will also go on tour with singer Jack Johnson this summer — and will be a presence at youth musical festivals, including Austin City Limits. In addition to Patagonia’s traditional customer base, the campaign will target individuals aged 18-25, because Generation Y and X voters by 2015 will be one-third of the U.S. electorate. This block of voters has the potential to make a huge impact in this and future elections. Patagonia also has partnered with over twenty national magazines to secure free or co-op ad space to communicate the “Vote The Environment” message. The company will also sell “Vote The Environment” tees, contributing $5.00 from the sale of each tee to the League of Conservation Voters.
“As a company, we believe that oil dependency, human health, corporate greed, food safety, energy policy and foreign policy are environmental issues — and we’re asking our customers to ‘Vote The Environment’ this November 4th,” notes Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia. “We have a thirty-year history of promoting issues in the public forum that are important to us. We’re not endorsing any specific candidates on the executive, federal or local level. Patagonia’s just saying that our customers can and should dissect the candidate’s environmental voting records and vote accordingly. I hope other companies follow suit.”
Patagonia’s “Vote The Environment” effort advocates and facilitates voter registration through Head Count, an organization dedicated to voter registration. Voters are then encouraged to learn about candidate’s environmental voting records through resources like the League of Conservation Voters, which keeps scorecards on candidate’s environmental voting histories. Finally, the campaign emphasizes the importance of “voting the environment” this November.
Patagonia, with sales last year of over $280M, is noted internationally for its commitment to product quality and environmental activism. The company has given over $30M to grassroots environmental activists since 1985 and was the first company to switch to 100% organic cotton in 1996. Patagonia is also the first U.S. company to publicly track the social and environmental footprint of its individual products through its Footprint Chronicles initiative, which has been heralded by the New York Times and Fast Company magazine. The company gives 1% of sales annually to the grassroots environmental movement through its membership in 1% For The Planet. Patagonia also accepts worn-out garments for recycling through its Common Threads Recycling Program and has currently recycled over 15,000 pounds of clothing into new garments. 65% of the company’s product line will be recyclable in Fall 2009.