In the wake of national parks having to shut down and visitors damaging Joshua Tree National Park for lack of supervision, Columbia Sportswear placed a full page ad in Friday’s Washington Post to goad Congress and the President into action.
The $80,000 advertisement headline is, “Make America’s Parks Open Again.” The ad further reads: “Walls shouldn’t block access to parks, and federal workers shouldn’t be left out in the cold. Work together to open our parks.” It’s signed by CEO Tim Boyle.
Boyle told Axios, “We rely on the beauty of America, the West, the outdoors to market our products,” and “When that’s under stress, we feel like we have to challenge that.”
Retailers have increasingly become political over the last few years. When Donald Trump reduced the size of two national monuments in Utah, outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia changed its homepage to read, “The President Stole Your Land.” Another brand, REI, posted a statement that read in part, “Today’s decision hurts the people who love these places.”
When Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, Tiffany & Co. tweeted, “The disaster of climate change is too real, and the threat to our planet and to our children is too great.”
Nike (NKE) is another retailer that went political with its Colin Kaepernick ad. Although there was a call for a boycott from some NFL fans, the company saw a boost in social marketing, sales, and stock price.
But taking a public stand can be tricky for companies that may want to sell to everyone. The question becomes whether those who like the position will make up for others who take a hike.