Columbia launches major communications campaign
Columbia is launching much more than a campaign, it is a full-blown communications platform. The US outdoor apparel brand characterises its image and marketing approach with the 'Tested Tough' slogan. It also labels it with 'Portland, Oregon, USA', underlining its expertise in the great outdoors.
The brand does in fact exploit the proximity to its preferred playgrounds. Its visuals feature the words "We test our products in the coldest, nastiest environment we can find. Our back garden." Or, alongside a picture of its Turbodown jacket: "Tested tough in the Pacific North-West. Because there are glaciers just round the corner."
To launch this message, Columbia is working on its online presence as well as with TV ads and 13x9 ft poster campaigns at bus stops and underground stations the world over. The brand also featured a front cover with US specialised Outside Magazine.
More specifically, the campaign plays the personality card. Gert Boyle, the group's iconic president, 91 years old and still in charge, has pride of place in the campaign, but shares it with Columbia headquarters personnel.
Chiefly, Columbia will rely on the campaign going viral, through a dedicated website. The site already features several clips showing Columbia employees enjoying their outdoors sporting activities... thus testing the brand's products.
To back this kind of story-telling, the brand has also recruited two testers, selecting two 'directors of toughness' after a large-scale casting. Over the course of six months, outdoors journalist Lauren Steele and sports photographer Zach Doleac, formerly with K2 Skis, will report on their adventures in testing outdoors materials.
Columbia Sportswear turned to North, a Portland agency, to implement this strategy. A strategy that will be deployed on 63 markets the world over.
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