As a student of Human Resources Management, I’ll admit that my knowledge of the functions and principles of marketing is rudimentary at best, but even I was pretty sure that the main function of advertising and marketing is usually to sell as much product as possible. Apparently, however, not everyone feels this way. Since 2011, the marketing focus of well-known outdoors outfitter Patagonia has taken a different tack.
This ad appeared in a November issue of the New York Times, appealing to Patagonia patrons to not buy gear they did not need, fix broken gear, sell or pass on unwanted gear, and keep waste out of landfills and incinerators.
A bold move by a profit-driven business, the “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign was also a wise move by a company that has repeatedly proven its commitment to the environment and protecting the land its patrons enjoy. This campaign is certainly not the first or last example of how Patagonia strives to practice sustainable business. Their Worn Wear campaign teaches owners of Patagonia wear how to repair their gear and make it last longer, reducing the carbon footprint that comes from producing new gear, even if recycled or organic material is being used in that process. Their policies towards employees also departs from the norm with programs like onsite child care and a day off each quarter to volunteer.
As a Human Resources Management major, corporate culture is an area of particular interest to me. That said, I was pretty excited when I learned about Patagonia, which combines my love for companies with strong cultures with my passion for the outdoors and sustainable living. As the Laird McLean article about an organization’s culture and the impacts on its employees’ creativity explores, developing a corporate culture that encourages the kind of behavior one wants to see in one’s employees creates a mutually beneficial relationship between employee and employer. Patagonia certainly has a unique culture, backed by hundreds of unique people who share the same passion for making a difference through playing outside.