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North Face says future is female: rethinks marketing, total brand strategy

Big change in North Face thinking. In the spirit of female empowerment and sheer enjoyment of an outdoors lifestyle, VF Corp’s key activewear brand on Tuesday launched “a massive and first-ever global initiative focused on women, celebrating and sharing the stories of adventurous and courageous female explorers.”

And it’s more than just a campaign with a complete rethink of the way the company approaches its female customers. That includes opening women-specific stores in the US this year.

The company said that its new Move Mountains concept “is rooted in empowering the next generation of explorers” and includes a multi-year outdoor adventure collaboration with Girls Scouts of the USA (GSUSA).

It’s meant to be a platform for sharing more stories of women in exploration, and a business commitment that “impacts everything from representation in advertising campaigns to investment in product design.”

Tom Herbst, global VP of marketing at The North Face, said there are plenty of women out there “already accomplishing incredible, inspiring things every day.” But he decried the fact that “women and girls don’t see themselves represented as ‘explorers’.”

To remedy that, the company said it “had a simple theory that if women and girls see more role models in exploration, it will create more female role models for future generations.”

The campaign takes in imagery and several short films celebrating stories of women who are pushing boundaries, including The North Face athletes, alpinist Hilaree Nelson, climbers Ashima Shiraishi and Margo Hayes, and ultrarunner and activist Fernanda Maciel.

The brand is also featuring women “who are explorers beyond physical exploration,” like women’s empowerment advocate America Ferrera, NASA scientist Tierra Guinn Fletcher, and musician and activist Madame Gandhi.

And it said that it’s “making a commitment to equal representation of women in all advertising, social media and content moving forward.”