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Patagonia Footwear Advocate Weeks: Localize and Socialize Environmental Engagement

Please watch this two-minute, highly entertaining music video from  the staff of one of Patagonia Footwear’s independent retailers in Arizona.  The employees of Mountain Sports in Flagstaff, AZ, created this video and coined the phrase “Patagonia is the first to admit, you’re only cool if you’re an advocate” as part of this project. I would think that is pretty darn cool, even if I didn’t work at 1% for the Planet.

Have you ever seen employees of a retail store creating music videos and social media campaigns about a product in their free time, just because the brand or program inspires them?

The Patagonia Footwear Advocate Weeks program is an innovative engagement campaign that is part of Patagonia Footwear’s membership with 1% for the Planet. The program empowers retail-store employees to support local non-profits working on environmental issues. And it’s been a huge success in terms of employee/community engagement, while boosting comparable weekly sales by over 300% in some stores and generating tens of thousands of dollars for local environmental organizations.

Each Spring and Fall, retailers select two weeks within a three-month window to run their  Advocate Weeks. During these weeks Patagonia Footwear makes the program and promotion materials available to all of their independent retailers. As a member of 1% for the Planet, 1% of sales (not profit) already goes to environmental non-profits.  Patagonia Footwear created  the 1% for the Planet co-branded Advocate line of footwear to serve as a conversation-starter at retail and when the consumer wears the shoe.

During Advocate Weeks Patagonia Footwear donates $10 for every Patagonia shoe sold through their independent retailers to local environmental non-profits that are selected by the employees of each store. The Advocate Weeks program brings the “Advocate” culture to every shoe in Patagonia’s portfolio, while localizing and socializing the environmental benefits to engage customers and employees around local non-profit organizations.

“Our business has an impact on the environment,” said Patagonia Footwear Marketing Manager Sue Harvey Brown. “We wanted to offset that impact and give back to the environment, while creating a program that empowers and engages employees and local communities.”

Two years after the program was launched in 2010, the Advocate line of 1% for the Planet co-branded footwear usually has at least one product in Patagonia’s weekly top ten, and retailers participating in the Advocate Week program has grown from 11 to more than 75, says Harvey Brown. The Advocate line of products is also growing much faster than the overall Patagonia Footwear business.

“The Advocate weeks have been a great value added program for us and our retail partners, both in terms of being able to educate consumers and raise money for local non profits,” said Patagonia Footwear Sales Director Jamie Barbor.

Imagine the impact that could be made if more brands and products developed “advocate” style engagement campaigns where each transaction creates a contribution to a relevant environmental cause; imagine what business could do for environmental causes while engaging employees and customers if more companies took this “contributory consumption” approach; ok, now stop imagining, and figure out how you can make something like this happen in your world. Be an advocate!

 

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