Until today — some 60 years after its founder, Yvon Chouinard, started selling mountain-climbing accessories out of his woodshed — Patagonia was probably the most successful company that had never made a television commercial.
But they can no longer claim that.
The outdoor gear titan's first commercial isn’t to sell their new line of sleeping bags, though. It’s not to tout a new line of hemp work clothes. Nor does it suggest their waders are the best in the game (they are).
Rather, they took the time — and hard-earned money — to discuss the asset that matters to them most: America's sprawling, diverse and uniformly gorgeous public lands, which inspired Patagonia to make its high-grade products in the first place.
Like Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the Interior, Patagonia considers our forests and open spaces to be a valuable resource. But where Zinke sees the treasure as something to be harvested, Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard assigns them a deeper, more spiritual value. Chouinard is concerned because he thinks Zinke will sell off our natural world to business interests, benefiting few while simultaneously endangering our future. He has good reason to be concerned; hell, even many hunters — not exactly a tree-hugging group — are displeased with Zinke’s motives and ambitions.
The commercial (above) is running in mountain states, and in it, Chouinard says that he received many business insights from time spent in the woods. Some of those insights can be found in Chouinard’s series of books on creating a sustainable company.
Perhaps Zinke and those who share his worldview could stand to listen and learn a thing or two.
But don't hold your breath. Instead, get involved.