The Patagonia Promise
In the past month, Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, announced that he would give away the company, valued at $3 billion, to help combat climate change. The company's ownership will be transferred into the power of the Patagonia Perpetua Trust and the nonprofit Holdfast Collective trust; this will ensure that the company’s estimated $100 million a year profits will go towards climate change and protecting undeveloped land around the globe. What Chouinard did was not only to show that the company lives up to its mission statement but, to put it plainly, he put his money where his mouth is. This idiom dates back to 1930 but was used in 1975 by the British government as an advertising slogan. Now, it is something that advertising agencies should suggest their clients consider in their advertising efforts.
For many reasons, mission statements are becoming obsolete as few brands measure up to them. This mentality is relevant, especially among Gen Z – a generation that does not take you for your word but for your actions. According to Triple Pundit, 78 percent say they are suspicious of brand motivation and commitment to their ideals.
This bold move by Patagonia has backed other companies into a corner. It has left consumers waiting and wanting a counter move by other companies to answer for their role in climate change. It will be interesting to see how an action-driven generation uses consumer activism to challenge how brands deal with their sustainability practices. The accountability of Gen Z will be an ongoing challenge for advertising agencies and brands in the coming years on all social issues, not just climate change.