Creative Director’s Choice gives creative directors a chance to highlight the work they think is the best out in the ad world – the ads and campaigns they believe are making a difference.
This week, Chris Weldon, head of creative and strategy at Bonfire Labs, San Francisco, explains why the ‘Worn Wear: Better than New’ campaign from Patagonia shows the power of brand documentaries when they are fully aligned with a purpose-driven brand.
Patagonia’s ongoing and inspired ‘Worn Wear’ campaign is an excellent example of how shining a light on a small company program can become an exceptional exercise in branding. It’s rare to see such an authentic expression of a company’s philosophy and vision reflected so clearly in its marketing and backed up so convincingly by the durability of a low-revenue service.
The four-minute establishing film takes viewers into Patagonia’s repair center where customers send their well-worn apparel for repairs, often accompanied by notes explaining why a particular item is so important to them. The campaign is extended into other films and a microsite, pulled together with the simple and evocative tagline: ‘The Stories We Wear’. These are profiles of professional athletes and real people who equate holes, burns and patches with the actual scars they gather on their adventures and wear as badges of honor and accomplishment. By stitching together the people who cherish their Patagonia products and the memories they create wearing those products, the campaign tells a larger story of things worth preserving.
To call this branded content belies its effectiveness, because it’s not just about borrowed interest or association, it’s about quality and durability. So perhaps a more apt term is “brand documentary.” It’s genius, because it’s inviting a deeper kind of conversation and engagement, not about the brand or products themselves, but about shared values and common purpose. It’s marketing content encouraging responsible consumer behavior, so amazingly, mostly what it’s “selling” is the idea that Patagonia convincingly stands for something sustainable, a rare feat, especially in fashion.
It’s not a new campaign – we can trace its ancestry to Patagonia’s famous ‘Don’t buy this jacket’ ad from 2011 – but like the products it highlights and the brand they’ve built, it’s durable and reminds us it’s worth celebrating something lasting.
Chris Weldon is head of creative and strategy at creative studio Bonfire Labs in San Francisco.
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