In order to remain viable, a business like The North Face obviously has to sell products. And Kathy Hines, the brand’s newly-appointed vice-president of marketing and strategy, admits she’d be lying if she were to say anything different. But beyond that, she believes the business has an opportunity to make a difference, and so she has also taken on a much bigger task: to make sure the 50-year-old outdoor brand has a legacy and leaves something behind that her and her team can be proud of.
Cue The North Face’s latest global campaign, She Moves Mountains, which is hoping to shine a light on female athletes and inspire a new generation of female explorers, regardless of their background.
From rock climbers Margo Hayes and Ashima Shiraishi, to ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson and Jiu-Jitsu fighter and ultra runner Fernanda Maciel, the campaign celebrates some of the most adventurous women from all corners of the globe – and kickstarts the brand’s longer-term commitment to be more inclusive of women.
“We are a large brand that can make a difference,” Hines tells Marketing Week. “This campaign was particularly important for us because it’s focused on women in the inner city who might not have the resources to embrace exploration like others might. We wanted to pick that as the sharp point to make sure we were opening up the concept of exploration to any woman regardless of where they live or what their current means are.”
We’re still very much perceived as a mountain brand but I see the brand everywhere.
Kathy Hines, The North Face
To do this, The North Face partnered with outdoor educational charity The Outward Bound Trust, in an effort to reduce the financial barriers that often go hand-in-hand with expensive outdoor sports. The North Face sells tents priced between £175 and £850, while a women’s ski jacket can cost up to £750.
Alongside members of The North Face’s NeverStop Community, they will be working with more than 1,600 young women from urban environments and actively promoting the benefits of outdoor activity to them – from rock climbing to mountain hikes to kayaking.
The North Face has also pledged to make changes within the company, including equal representation of women in all marketing and content and doubling its investment in the design and manufacturing of its apparel and kit for women.
Its efforts to be more inclusive can only be seen as a positive step for the brand, though it feels like The North Face has been slow to address decades-old issues around gender discrimination in…