Patagonia’s Stories That Inspire Campaign
Driving brand awareness and digital event attendance during a pandemic
“Turn everything off, at least until we know more” – It’s a sentence you don’t ever expect to hear from a Marketing Manager while partway through several large campaigns at the start of the new season; but this was no ordinary year, this was 2020.
We were in full swing with a number of campaigns with outdoor brand Patagonia in March of 2020 when COVID-19 took hold of the world. The ‘Dirksen Derby’ splitboard race was just about to take place, the ‘Running up for Air’ fell race planned for the weeks after, and Torrentshell, a large eCommerce push all scheduled in and ready to start firing any day now. But, as with most things at that time, the only option was to hit ‘pause’, and wait.
As the world shut down and people prepared to stay indoors for the foreseeable, it quickly became apparent that now, more than ever, people were going to need something to keep their spirits up.
Making the move to digital
It was decided that, because Patagonia’s audiences were not going to be able to attend any physical events for an extended period of time, they would recreate these events online, whilst providing some much-needed inspiration and ‘stoke’ in the process.
The first film in the Stories That Inspire series was Life of Pie – a story of pizza and mountain biking in Utah
Patagonia’s back catalogue of films is extensive; ranging from stories about mountain bikes and pizza in Utah, to tales of freediving women in South Korea. There are climb films, fly fishing films, trail running films, surf films and activism films – just about anything you can imagine and something for each and every one of Patagonia’s fans.
We were tasked with taking this back catalogue of content and creating ‘live’ events on Facebook, where audiences could come together and watch something that would not only lift their spirits but also inspire them to plan their next adventure once the world returns to some semblance of normality.
An added bonus was that this would also serve to keep Patagonia present in the minds of their most engaged fans, whilst also reaching some new ones in the process.
The plan was to show 2 of these films a week ‘live’ on Facebook so people could come together and all watch at the same time.
For many of the films, we were also supplied with a video clip of an ambassador or relevant NGO representative which we added in at the start. This created a smooth flow of introduction to film and gave the speaker an opportunity to explain that they would be active in the comments while the film was running and would be answering any questions about what was happening on screen as well as adding in additional information and anecdotes.
This gave viewers extra content that they wouldn’t have gotten if they’d watched the film elsewhere, whilst also providing a reason to tune in live, recreating what they would experience at a physical event.
Moving events online during the pandemic allowed audiences to engage with ambassadors from anywhere in the world
Reaching audiences, old and new
In order to create awareness around the biweekly screenings, we adopted an organic social posting plan across Patagonia Europe’s social media channels as well as a paid activation.
Each film was uploaded to Facebook under their ‘premiere’ functionality and set to go live in a little under a week’s time, we then created a Facebook event which allowed us to use paid ads to promote the screenings. Facebook doesn’t allow you to put paid promotion behind a premiere, so this was a great workaround which made it possible to advertise the screenings to large numbers of Patagonia’s audience, as well as reaching new audiences who would be interested in the specific films.
We created and promoted event pages to circumnavigate Facebook’s Premiere promotion restrictions
Bringing like-minded people together
In a time of uncertainty, when many other brands were pulling the plug on marketing spend this was a really effective way for Patagonia to keep the brand in the minds of their audiences. By simply using their existing assets they were able to do something positive for their audience and create optimistic experiences which brought like-minded people together for an hour or so.
An added bonus of the Stories That Inspire campaign was that it opened up the often limited reach of physical screening events and film tours to a much wider audience. So fans of the brand who live in a small town which would never normally host a screening event could get involved and engage with brand ambassadors.
Because of the varied nature of the films used, the campaign also served to put the brand in front of new, sports-specific viewers. This has left Patagonia with a legacy of bespoke audiences who can be targeted in future brand campaigns and re-engaged with content that will interest them.
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In the 3 months that it ran the Stories That Inspire campaign reached over 10 million people across Facebook and Instagram ads generating over 31 million impressions.
17 separate online events resulted in over half a million minutes of Patagonia films watched by fans old and new. Tens of thousands of individuals responded to the screening event pages, far more than would have interacted with the brand through the course of a normal physical screening.
Despite not being the event calendar that Patagonia had planned for 2020, the digital screenings were a great success and allowed the brand to engage with audiences in a safe and positive way.
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