Patagonia – The Activist Company – Interview with Vincent Stanley, Director of Philosophy

Patagonia is the quintessential Ueber-Brand. This brand is fascinating and we have written extensively about what we think drives and sustains its success in our latest book as well as on this blog.  But it is quite another thing to hear it all directly from ‘one of the family’ – quite literally.  For Vincent Stanley is not only Patagonia’s ‘Director of Philosophy’, previously VP of Marketing and Communications as well as co-author with company founder Yvon Chouinard of “The Responsible Company,” the bible for leaders who seek to do good while doing business. He is also Yvon’s nephew and became one of the very first employees in the early 70’ies when he helped him extend the chicken coop in the back yard that served as ‘equipment forge’, as he will tell us.

In this interview we will touch on most of the elements of Ueber-Branding beginning with Patagonia’s strong sense of Mission, the brand’s Myth, the product to Behold, how the organization ‘Lives the Dream’, ‘Un-Sells’ and how they strive for Responsible Growth.  We will also get insights into:

  • why the choice was to run Patagonia, not a foundation to protect the environment
  • what is authenticity vs ‘putting on a show’ when it comes to maintaining the myth
  • how content marketing and social media comes naturally to Patagonia- since 1972
  • who and how they set themselves up to evolve and grow while keeping their soul

And, of course, we will talk about the famous ad Vincent ran not to sell more but to change the way we feel and think about owning a garment (despite his denying, we still think it also helped sell more Patagonia ;-)

Patagonia Activism in a Chicago store. A call to help save the air, earth, water and recycle your worn gear.

Patagonia Activism in a Chicago store: A call to help save our air, water, soil and to recycle your gear.

And if you like what you heard in the ‘official’ part of the interview, you will love some take-outs from the chat we had afterwards. Hang around to hear why:

  • poor people and nations pay the price for fast fashion and cheap garments
    (Or: Why $29 for a trucker hat is not creaming but rather not charging enough)
  • environmental consciousness is a great engine for innovation and attracting talent

CLICK THE PLAY BUTTON to hear the interview. Scroll to further reading below.

Yvon Chouinard and that mission statement Vincent talks about – more relevant now than ever.

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For more insights what drives the success of Ueber-Brands like Patagonia, read our book “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueberbrands” and other case-studies on this blog.

Here is an introduction to the very rich social media world of Patagonia.  Starting with their introduction of themselves as an ‘Activist Company’ on the Patagonia Website.  Among many interesting sub-sites we want to call out the ‘Footprint Chronicles‘ co-developed by Vincent and documenting Patagonia’s efforts to source and manufacture responsibly and their appeal to ‘Vote Our Planet’ online and in store as well as the ‘Cleanest Line’ company blog  a continuation of the community-sourced adventure stories that were already featured in the Patagonia catalogs in the 1970ies. since the catalogues. Here is one of the many films Patagonia has made, this one about ‘Worn Wear: The stories we wear‘ and another one about in support of their efforts to build-back dams: ‘DamNation‘. Note that you are asked – overtly or implicitly – in all of these communications to ‘take action’ and help the environment you explore with those Patagonia garments.

Finally, another interview with Stanley on the Patagonia blog that provides more intimate insights on him as a person, as a novelist, as a Chouinard family member, as a husband of another writer and environmental activist – his wife Nora Gallager …

Want to compare and contrast the Patagonia story with another environmentally conscious brand that ‘shines from the inside out’?  Then read about our visit to the Freitag bag making plant in Switzerland here.



About JP Kuehlwein

JP is a proven business leader, recognized strategy expert and global brand builder. He has a 20+ year track record of successfully creating, re-staging and growing brands and their organizations around the world. Before co-founding Ueber-Brands Consulting, JP served as Managing Director of Global Strategy & Innovation, Premium Consumer at Procter & Gamble and was Executive Vice President of Frédéric Fekkai, a global prestige brand and fully owned subsidiary of P&G. He is also an External Director of Smith & Norbu, a Hong Kong-based luxury optical frame maker. JP has co-authored the bestselling “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueber-Brands” with Wolf Schaefer, which is quickly becoming a marketers reference book. JP is regularly involved in public speaking and teaching across industries and markets in English, French or German language. JP and Wolf’s blog and podcast ‘Ueber-Brands’ and related events are sought-after by brand builders and marketing leaders around the world. He has been named ‘Inspirational Marketer of the Year’ by the Association of National Advertisers/The Internationalist among other awards. Based out of New York City, JP is on the advisory board and a guest lecturer at the Masters Program in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management at the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology (NY), an advisory board member of the CMO Council (San Jose), L2 Inc. (NY) and L2 Inc. (NY).
Gallery | This entry was posted in 1 - Mission Incomparable - The first rule is to make your own, 3 - From Myth to Meaning - The best way up is to go deep, 4 - Behold! - The product as manifestation, 5 - Living the Dream - The bubble shall never burst, 6 - Un-Sell - The superiority of seduction, 7 - Moving with Gravitas - The king never hurries, PODCAST and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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