Patagonia Black Friday Advertisement, NY Times: Don’t Buy This Jacket

Patagonia: Don't Buy This Jacket

Do you read the NY Times newspaper? I mean the actual paper version. If so, you might have seen this advertisement from Patagonia asking consumers to not buy their jacket. That’s right, they took out advertising in one of the most expensive printed media sources to not advertise a product. It sounds a little far-fetched. I mean, what’s the motive behind this, right?

According to the Patagonia blog, The Cleanest Line, “It’s time for us as a company to address the issue of consumerism and do it head on. The most challenging, and important, element of the Common Threads Initiative is this: to lighten our environmental footprint, everyone needs to consume less. Businesses need to make fewer things but of higher quality. Customers need to think twice before they buy.”

In Patagonia’s Common Threads Initiative, they outline exactly how they want to partner with you, their customer, to Reduce, Repair, Reuse, and Recycle. As Annie Leonard, spokesperson for The Story of Stuff Project says, “There’s a reason “recycling” comes last in the mantra… Recycling is what we do when we’re out of options to avoid, repair, or reuse the product first.”

Does all of this mean that we should stop designing, stop appreciating the beauty that good art & design bring to our lives? I do not think so. Design is an essential part of our lives and it enhances our experiences as humans. But we must hold more sacred the objects that we produce and produce them in the most sustainable way possible. Be willing to pay for the real work and resources that have gone into our products and produce only what the market needs. There was a time, no less than 50 years ago, when products were made to last and heirlooms were passed down through generations. But last year when my antique lamp needed repair, an electrician over-the-phone advised me to just throw it out and buy a new one as it would be a cheaper and easier solution. Perhaps. But it would surely also lack character, history, and craftsmanship. Today designers are aplenty. If you don’t believe me, spend 10 minutes on Etsy or maybe even take a walk outside. Where I live, Williamsburg Brooklyn, is a good place to start. We have lots of opportunities to buy quality products from innovative, spirited, creative designers who have a few nice things you might need in your life. By the way, that lamp of mine that had broken? My landlord fixed it for me in less than half an hour.

Take the pledge with Patagonia to reduce your environmental footprint here. Watch Annie Leonard’s collection of videos on what’s plaguing us and how to make a difference here. Buy quality products that you need and that can be in your life for generations. And let’s think twice before we consume.


19 Comments on “Patagonia Black Friday Advertisement, NY Times: Don’t Buy This Jacket”

  1. Cam says:

    Such a good reminder. We always use the term “voluntary simplicity” which means, to us, buy fewer, high quality, beautifully designed things instead of lots of low quality junk. And buy art – because beauty is good for people and artists are important to any world in which we want to live. Thanks for the piece.

  2. designgush says:

    Thanks for your input!

  3. While I agree with their message wholeheartedly it strikes me as a cynical ploy for publicity from a well endowed corporation (as evidenced by their being featured in this blog). Has Patagonia stopped making new jackets this year? Have they stopped selling them? Have they stopped advertising them? Any of those actions would be a real statement of authenticity. This ad, featuring their latest product front and center, certainly is not.

    • sacha says:

      My wife works for Patagonia. Nope not a ploy. They genuinely believe in and work towards reducing their footprint. They created 1% for the planet (you’re cynical so let me tell you that it’s 1% of sales not profit so if they have a bad year they’re still committed to that support) They have done an environmental audit of all of their products and work to improve it every year. They pretty much single handedly crated the organic cotton movement—at a meeting they just said by 1995 all of our cotton will be organic. It was a massive undertaking involving countless vendors. But you know what came out of it—Conventional farms switching to organic. They created fleece made from recycled soda bottles. And now they’ve created Common Threads. All of these are things they couldn’t have done if they’d done as you suggest “stopped making new jackets this year”.

      I see the owner Yvon on the campus sometimes—he is not sporting the company’s latest gear—he’s wearing well worn gear they made 20 years ago.

      • designgush says:

        Great info – thanks for sharing, Sacha.

      • Gary says:

        The only way this works is if consumers respond with the Ying to Patagonia’s Yang…they only buy when they need to replace a jacket and, when they do buy, they buy products that are of a “higher quality.”

        So, lets do the math – call it cynicism if you like – how does a company protect their Brand equity, a mix of unique product qualities and perceived self-express benefits?

        You position your premium product as a part of movement for the greater good, “Buy less items, but of higher quality.” Sounds like good brand positioning for a company that wants to protect their margins in the face of cheap knock offs.

        I’m not saying Patagonia is not going to great lengths to support the mission of sustainability, I’m just providing balance to the conversation. And for the record, regardless of motive, I love companies that are agents of the change we want to see in the world.

  4. While I can appreciate Howard’s viewpoint ( it is difficult not to be cynical these days ), it is time for businesses to realize that we cannot continue to take more from the planet than it can replace. We are living as if we have one and a half earths while we plunder the only one we have. Population is growing and demand is rising. Patagonia is setting a great example and leading the way for all producers and sellers of goods to be responsible and to address sustainability from extraction, through production to end use. Kudos to them and thanks to designgush for reminding us that we are all in it together.

  5. […] with the print version of The New York Times, I was thrilled to greet Black Friday by opening to a full-page ad from Patagonia that urged readers “Don’t Buy This […]

  6. Lindsay says:

    Of course it’s Patagonia trying to market their business. Just because they’re saying we need to buy less, and be less wasteful, doesn’t mean they want to go out of business. As an anti-consumerist, small business owner myself, I’m sick of the assertion that you can’t be an advocate for sustainability, and want your business to be successful at the same time. It’s not hypocritical. I choose to carry products that were made nearby using sustainable materials, and that promote simplicity (cloth diapers, for one). Of course I want my business to be successful – largely because my business is my platform to try to help change the public’s view of sustainability, and the options that are out there. I encouraged my customers to take part in Buy Nothing Day. Was this marketing? Yes. Does it mean the message was any less true? Absolutely not. It frustrates me that some people seem to think that the only businesses that aren’t hypocritical are the ones who blatantly rape and pillage the earth.

    • Gary says:

      I agree Lindsay, companies can create and grow long term brand equity by communicating their corporate ethos clearly with action. They can do this while continuing to serve their shareholders.

      Then we the consumers can reward those companies that align with our personal views. Really, who needs a new jacket every winter because a color stylist decided on a new color pallet for fall/winter colors?

      I love the history of my clothes, gear and furnishings – many of them recycled after service to another owner…they add gravitas to my existence.

  7. […] Patagonia decidió llevar la campaña a otro nivel y compro un espacio en NYT Ojalá hubiese más empresas […]

  8. Amber says:

    It’s pretty funny that there’s a Best Buy ad directly after this article.

  9. […] 7. Black Friday – Don’t buy this jacket […]

  10. […] designgush Tags: Patagonia, Retail document.write(""); function iab_rma_noad(){ var […]

  11. […] with the print version of The New York Times, I was thrilled to greet Black Friday by opening to a full-page ad from Patagonia that urged readers “Don’t Buy This […]

  12. […] trace your garment to the herd of sheep that work to keep you warm). (BTW, have you seen outfitter Patagonia’s expensive ad urging shoppers to think twice before buying their products? Some of the folks at Ecocentric […]

  13. […] thrilled to greet the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping spree known as Black Friday by opening to a full-page ad from Patagonia that urged readers “Don’t Buy This Jacket.”To the best of my […]

  14. Emily says:

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