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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.”

What was about that deal with the Girl Scouts? The multi-year outdoor adventure collab takes in multiple initiatives and includes support for the creation of 12 new outdoor adventure badges from mountaineering and climbing, to backpacking, hiking and trail running.

“Girl Scouts has been blazing the trail for girls’ leadership in the outdoors for more than a century, and outdoor badges continue to be amongst the most popular category of badges our girls ask for,” said GSUSA CEO Sylvia Acevedo.

The North Face is also applying the spirit of Move Mountains to its internal business – with increased investment in women’s product design, renewed focus on employee development and “ensured closure of the gender pay gap on the athlete team.”

The women-specific store initiative will see two open this year. One in Edina, Minnesota, will focus on the brand’s running and training apparel, and the other in San Francisco will carry all women’s product lines, including running and training gear, mountain and urban focused products.


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