Friday, February 22, 2008


I've heard a lot of dialogue about advertising over the last few months. As is with most things, opinions vary. I don't have a marketing background but I'm starting to develop preferences. I began to wonder what the Way Upstream community thought about this topic. Here's a look at the latest Watermaster II ad soon to run (full page). Sorry about the low res image. The wader copy reads "Our proprietary fabric and barrier technology is the toughest, most puncture resistant on the market. The waders feature our innovative internal suspender system that allows for relief without removing jacket or vest and provides a measure of safety for unplanned swims." The ad image is a shot from the AEG Mongolian trip. There is a small block of copy (bottom left) that highlights this. It says "The AEG Fish Bums decompress after 16 hours of chasing taimen in Mongolia."

The product shot approach to ads is a bit of a new direction for Patagonia Team Fish. Let me know what you think. I'd be curious to hear any and all thoughts on effective advertising. Are there any memorable ads that stand out for you (any brand)? If there are any marketers out there, feel free to share thoughts on modern day marketing strategies/directions.

Photos by Tim Pask


Anonymous said...

Memorable fly fishing specific adds. Only one jumps immediately to mind. Three or four, cannot recall how many exactly, grizzled guides lined up along the automobile rip rap bank on the Big Horn. Everytime I rowed along that curve in the river I had to stop and picture those guys. Great add. Probably made me buy a pair of waders I didn't need.

JVK said...

I was wondering about this. It seems as though the Patagonia Fish Team is taking a different approach to marketing.
I was flipping through a Fly Fishing Magazine the other day and was caught off guard to see an ad for the Guidewater Jacket. I cant remember where, but I remember reading something(maybe YC's book) that Patagonia doesn't place product advertisements, but always the ads support a environmental cause or etc...
I have always appreciated this angle. With todays consumerism, thats all we need is more ads to tell us that our old product we have is now out of date and we need the "new and improved" version. The old school mentality that the product will sell itself, the word of mouth, grassroots movement maybe is just a romantic idea and doesn't make for a growing business any more.
I do realize that Patagonia is trying to grab a larger percentage of the fly fishing market but I would hate to see that come at a cost to either reputation or consumerism.

Not sure is I have conveyed my thoughts clearly or not, but just my two cents.


Anonymous said...

Hi El pescador. Did u get my e.mail?
best regards,

Francisco E. (pantxo)

Anonymous said...

Look, the ROI of traditional print advertising -- even advertising where you appear to set the product on fire -- continues to plummet.

Product oriented, brand oriented -- it doesn't much matter lacking the context of an overall creative strategy, or even a coherent multi-step engagement marketing strategy.

In simplest terms, Simms has gotten a ton of mileage out of a lot of gritty pictures of pissed-off looking guides (when did fly fishing become so unfun?), and in the classic advertising sense, what's Patagonia's message?

Clearly, you guys have aligned yourself with extreme fly fishing's practitioners (AEG, TIF) - how are you going to translate that to sales?

In one sense, this ad does that, but "16 hours" on a Taimen stream isn't exactly the most stirring product demonstration I could create. "16 weeks without a leak" comes a lot closer...


Anonymous said...

While I can't recall a specific fly fishing ad, I do remember some older ads for other product that stick in my mind--the guy up under his truck in a beat up, stained pile (think first gen Retro) and some others that show real world users. I have always appreciated that Patagonia can design a product for a genuine "user"--not an elite climber or skier but maybe a construction worker who needs a tough, functional jacket that he can take to the slopes on the weekend. I think that perception by members of the general public draws a lot of buyers who end up with a product that performs well and lasts a long, long time. I think that image and perception carries over to the softer spectrum of the line as well. I appreciate the fact that I own Patagonia polo shirts that are over 20 years old, have been worn fishing, hiking, traveling and mowing the yard and can still be worn with a pair of pressed khakis to the office. While I certainly don't see anything wrong with a high-quality, studio image of a product that showcases the features and utility (particularly in the case of a new product), I think an image that demonstrates the function of a product and expresses the philosophy of building something that has some ability to withstand abnormal amounts of time an usage is what draws people to the brand. Having said that--I know that we are swimming upstream in a consumer culture that places value on appearance over function and quantity over quality. No amount of marketing will capture that kind of consumer--might as well stay "committed to the core".

JVK said...

patagonia catalogs are filled with "user" pictures. real people on real adventures, the weekend warriors. I can find myself in them and can relate.
I think that being "real" or authentic are the key. I dont want smoke and mirrors or whats going to make me be the envy on the river, I want something that is going to serve its purpose whether that is keeping me dry, cool or warm from the elements.
I think that Patagonia is "remarkable" and the "brand" is what i am sold on.



I agree with jvk totally. I appreciate Patagonia's environment-friendly angle and that is one of the reasons I like Patagonia. When refer to product ads. Patagonia always have the best editing and photos in the catalog IMO. It just such a pleasure to "read" the catalog... lot's of ecology and technical information there. I am guessing this approach may come from the mountaineering branch of patagonia... that market is way more compatitive than the FF market IMO.
I like all the technical information in the catalog. The newer tech and ads is the fuel to keep the business rolling, unfortunately or fortunately. AEG is a good approach...I would love to see those field test/nice photo approach, but they do not really tell you anything about the product. The good product come from the peer's mouth and previous reputations,to me.. I guess.

Unknown said...

Personally, I like the smaller picture better. Battle-tested waders. Product in use on the river. A cross-cutting exchange of cultures through a stick and love of fish. Smiles. There is something more raw about it. The one chosen the the ad (campfire) is strong but feels like something from an after-party at the FFF enclave in Livingston. I would expect that Patagonia is also exploring ads with the roll-top function displayed. There is clearly a need for trumpeting the features and benefits in best of breed products. Don't worry about the soul. It is sedimented into every stitch. But, if the stitches fail, then the soul erodes somewhat for the customer.

El Pescador said...

Thanks everyone for your comments, critique, ideas and suggestions. My position is that everything we do at Patagonia is driven by the mission statement "Make the best product, do the least harm and to use biz to implement and inspire solutions to the environmental crisis." Our ads should reflect our experience in both of these areas- making good gear and doing less harm. For 2008 Team Fish has introduced 17 new or redesigned styles (with more coming) so we chose to call attention to product in our ads. I have faith in our Creative Team and believe in their ability. Can we improve? Of course, the answer to that question is always yes. To a large degree that is why Way Upstream was created. Consider this post an ongoing conversation so continue to add your thoughts. Thank you all once again. Keep the fly in the water and believe in every cast.

Adam said...

I like the Redington Fly Fishing advertisements even though I have found that their products are often low-quality. They poke fun at fly-fishing's occasional snobbery.

In terms of advertising in general, I think you need to sell the "lifestyle" your brand conveys. Patagonia promotes an environmentally-conscious life. This focus should be present in adds. One of the reasons I choose Patagonia is that I know where the product is made, how its made, and the causes Patagonia supports. I also support Patagonia because of this blog. Allowing consumers to have feedback on products is amazing.

Anonymous said...

I think the new Ad's are a smart move. An Ad aimed at highlighting a new product and getting a consumer to want to go out and buy it, sure is a whole lot more effective if you actually show the product. New product can easily get lost in the mix if you don't highlight it.

Anonymous said...

Big Sky Taku: I tend to agree with the folks who prefer to see ads that center on more of the weekend warrior, how well things really work over time. Having been on long trips in the Arctic, North and South America, I believe that I can put at least as much, or maybe more rough wear on gear on local trips as on any long trip. So ads targeting expeditions don't do it for me. Commitment to the long term planet is consistent with long term use. So far I have had two different pairs of waders over the last ten years that lasted years, a pair of neoprene O'Neils and a pair of breathable Simms that trips to the Arctic and uncountable days of hunting and fishing in have failed to kill. They have some patches, but still are going strong. That's what I look for in ads. Thanks for asking El Pescador.

Anonymous said...

The add kind of suggests to me that I should be drying my waders over a roaring fire. Otherwise it does not do much for me in terms of emotional response. I guess I do not identify myself with a bunch of guys wearing waders around a campfire in Mongolia.

Show me some guys sliding down their asses down into a canyon and unfished waters. Regular folks who love the sport and want to get away from the Powerhouse 2 riffle.

Unknown said...

Hookeye opens up an interesting window to expore -- the radius and carbon footprint that comes from chasing fish with carbon fibre sticks from Montana to Mongolia. The locavores of anglers? Maybe this is part of the 'Examined Life' that Patagonia is asking us to consider. I live in London and it is interesting to hear more anglers talking about going for local pike on the Thames as a less time and money-intensive pursuit than Zambezi tigerfish or Seychellian trevally. There is plenty of WOW factor in the local wilds and perhaps the planet is better off - this is happening here in food supply chain localization and the sourcing of fish. Thoughts on how to translate this into an ad or action plan?

clarin said...

For my taste this is too much "product ad" as JVK says. I would think that Patagonia would gain more to cultivate it’s soul of environmental commitment instead. E.g to have a pic of someone working with restoration of a river wearing Patagonia waders/equipment. That would be more true to Patagonias image/soul/inner core. This looks too much “let’s get a better turnover in the fly fishing segment”.

( I think the grizzled guides was an ad for Gore-Tex)

Anonymous said...

I think the Patagonia fishing team is doing a great job. If changing the direction and going with more product specific adds seems like the best way to keep up with the market than it's probably a good move. As Yvon said, the more business they do, the more they can give back. Personally i like to see adds where i know the person or people aren't just posing in the garments. It's cool to feature people who are doing environmental work and or giving back to the industry like Ralph Cutter types. I respect guides and biologist who work in the products everyday as well as weekend warriors who depend on the gear to make the best of a short trip. I liked some of the adds that just feature an anonamous fisherman too. It could be Kamchatka or it could be the stream down the road. The product needs to preform the same in either case.

I do like that you guys are incorperating some of us younger guys into your advertising and helping support the videos and efforts some are making.
One aspect of this add thats cool is that it shows that Brian Justin and Chris weren't just dying to take the waders off at the end of the day. They are comfortable enough to wear up till pass out time. Bias it may be, but i personally liked some of the shots Corey Rich took in mongolia. Peter and Genevieve are die hard Patagonia supporters and they buy everything at full price and have been for years. That's pretty cool. It may be a bit kooky, but i respect someone's opinion more if they bought something at full price because they like it, rater than say they like it because they got a deal on it.

On a side note, I spent last 4 days straight in my water master waders and guide water jacket. We hiked through many miles of the Kalmiopsis wilderness with heavy packs. Over fallen trees, through creeks, over rocks, into the river up to our chest through the heavy rain, snow and hail. We only took our gear off to get in our bags at night. My wader, boot and jacket combo preformed perfectly, while a friend in a major competitors waders and boots didn't fare so well through the deal. I wore the same pair of waders through mongolia, i've worn them for two guide seasons around here and all my film work where i sometimes spend all day in the water. With just a small amount of seam seal, they can still stand up to 20 miles worth of hiking. My sticky rubber souls on my boots held in rock cracks, on wet tree trunks and on slippery rock river bottom and didn't leave me with blisters after a long hike. That's as real as it gets.

What ever direction you go, just keep it soul. Keep peoples attention on the environment they are going to be using the product in as much as the products them selves.


Pete said...

What a great thread. Can't believe I just found this now. A couple of comments really touched on it, one thing to me that makes Patagonia different is they seem to be a company with a conscience, not just hawking products. Others do this too, but not nearly as effectively as Patagonia.

As far as brand image goes, it's a tricky thing. I've had lengthy conversations about this with guys that work for surf apparel companies and skate and wakeboard--brands where once you lose your street cred with your core, it's over.

Take Quiksivler. I talked to a guy a few years ago who said they are constantly straddling the line between keeping it a core brand and appealing to a broader audience without gutting that core. As he put it, "Once kids start wearing your brand to the mall in Middle America, you're dead." Now Quiksilver has a store on 42nd Street, Times Square, miles from anywhere surfers would congregate, and I just read in the business section of the paper how they're building a line of chic clothing a la Juicy targeted at trendy women. And guess what, I see more kids wearing Quiksilver in the mall these days than at the beach. Is this the kiss of death for Quiksilver as a hardcore surf brand?

Anonymous said...

Whatever happens, never let your adds look like the new Under armor add that out now!