One big step for Marmot, an even bigger one for the outdoor industry?

Well-established and well-loved outdoor retailer Marmot recently made it known publicly that they’ll be running an ad on perhaps the world’s largest advertising stage, The Super Bowl.


The 15-second previews prove that the retailer’s Super Bowl ad will be a first step in a daringly new territory.  Whereas their advertising messaging typically focuses on impressive outdoor feats, the cornerstone of their 30-second piece will be “The Marmot,” a new mascot who strategically is personified to be ‘just like you,’ complete with all the blunders but also the simple joys everyday people uniquely experience when outdoors.  The ads aim to encourage absolutely everyone to get outside, a message that is far more inclusive than what the company is used to, but also in-line with a trend within the larger outdoor industry.

The “get outside,” theme was propelled forward late last year by REI. They encouraged action, shutting down all of their stores on Black Friday as part of their #OptOutside campaign, and people and businesses alike felt proud to skip the consumerist holiday and instead spend the day outside. REI gained hard-to-obtain brand love, but also brought greater recognition around the need to spending time outdoors in an increasingly busy and work-consumed society.  Thus, the move is logical for Marmot and should support their business goals of expanding its customer reach and gaining market share from larger competitors like Patagonia or The North Face.  


This isn’t to say that the ad will run without any criticism, however, especially from outdoor industry die-hards.  Is it worth potentially losing brand-loyalists to expand reach to a broader, not as ‘core’ audience? This savvy group of loyalists isn’t blind to the sky-high costs of advertising in the Super Bowl; a 30-second ad this year costs around $5 million, when the brand spent a total of $4.6 million for the whole of 2014 on advertising.  How then, has competing company Patagonia tripled its profits since 2008, but never run such large-scale advertising? While the brand is now present in hundreds of big-box retailers like Macy’s, they’ve kept their core following of loyalists proud; as their profits have skyrocketed, they’ve also doubled their contributions to grassroots environmental organizations.

In conclusion, it’s unprecedented for Marmot but also the wider outdoor industry to be batting alongside companies with some of the world’s largest ad budgets.  Nonetheless, it’s still to be determined if a 30-second, $5 million jolt of feel good-outdoor advocacy places Marmot with the likes of long-time activist Patagonia and now REI.  




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