Patagonia Clothing has announced plans to sue the Trump Administration in defense of two Utah national monuments. The recreational clothing brand has long expressed its interests in protecting the environment and supporting fair trade but has taken a more aggressive political stance in response to executive orders to shrink the borders around Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments.
“Americans have overwhelmingly spoken out against the Trump Administration’s unprecedented attempt to shut down our national monuments,” Rose Marcario, president and CEO of Patagonia wrote on the company website. “The Administration’s unlawful actions betray our shared responsibility to protect iconic places for future generations and represent the largest elimination of protected land in American history. We’ve fought to protect these places since we were founded and now we’ll continue that fight in the courts.”
Patagonia has adopted the slogan, “The President Stole Your Land” on its website and across social media to garner support.
The President’s executive orders reduce the borders around Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah. Those who support the orders claim that placing control back into the hands of the State instead of the Federal Government will allow local officials to better decide how to protect and manage it. Those who oppose claim that the orders steal land revered by Native Americans and place these locations at risk for destructive private enterprises like logging and fracking.
An increasing number of brands have taken a political stance following the 2016 election of President Donald Trump. Taking a stance one way or the other risks alienating consumers, leading to boycotts and loss of sales.
According to Edelman’s 2017 Earned Brand Survey, 57 percent of consumers across the world will either buy or boycott a brand based on its position on social and political issues. A consumer study fielded by SSRS found that 58 percent dislike when brands get political and are more likely to avoid brands that take a position contrary to their beliefs.
On the other hand, 79 percent of Gen Z consumers said they would engage with a brand that could help them make a difference in the world, according to a recent study by Saatchi New York.
In the case of Patagonia, environmental activism is as much of its brand message as selling parkas. In response to its posts on social media, user comments have ranged from praising the brand to arguments about the truth in Patagonia’s statements.
Fellow recreational clothing brand REI has also expressed its concern over the executive orders, albeit in a bipartisan statement.
“Despite the loss of millions of acres of protected lands this week, REI will continue to advocate for the places we all love,” the company wrote in a statement. “REI will not retreat from our strong belief that there is common ground in the outdoors. We will continue to pursue bipartisan support to protect public lands and prevent death by a thousand cuts. REI members can be assured that we will honor our shared passion for our public lands, dedicating time and resources to leaving them healthier for future generations.”
REI is trying to take a safer route that supports the protection of public lands without alienating consumers. The brand is asking those on social media to replace their profile pictures with a “We [Heart} Our Public Lands” slogan. As with Patagonia, however, the resulting comments have been positive and negative alike.