Bringing the Outdoors to Everyone
L.L.Bean is an internationally recognized outdoor retailer known for its legendary customer service and high-quality gear and apparel that help to further people's enjoyment of the outdoors.
For more than a hundred years, L.L.Bean has connected generations of Americans to our national parks, a tradition that continues today. Together with the National Park Foundation (NPF), L.L.Bean is delivering on its long-standing goal of helping to connect people with nature in their own authentic way.
In 2018, L.L.Bean became a premier partner of NPF’s Find Your Park/Encuentra Tu Parque movement. As a Find Your Park partner, L.L.Bean tapped into the national, multi-year campaign to advance their goal of making time outdoors accessible for all Americans. With Find Your Park, L.L. Bean made it easy for everyone to find parks in their own backyard, connecting people with opportunities in the outdoors. Through partnership, NPF has also been able to align with L.L.Bean’s brand campaign Be An Outsider. Since 2018, NPF and L.L.Bean have scaled their partnership strategically using different tactics to celebrate the shared joy of the outdoors.
With so many outdoor brands concentrating on experienced outdoor enthusiasts with an ever-growing thirst for adventure, L.L.Bean looked to meet people where they are in order to show how accessible the outdoors are. This goal perfectly aligned with NPF’s mission to help people see that our national parks can be many different things to different people. Our strategic approach focused on:
- Helping people discover the outdoors in their own backyards via experiential activations
- Building excitement for the national parks though strategic marketing and co-branded product
- Investing in introductory park programs, creating a direct connection for youth to the outdoors
Help People Discover the Outdoors
As a premier sponsor of Find Your Park, L.L.Bean was able to make the outdoors less intimidating by showing the breadth and depth of the park system, including some of the system’s lesser-known parks. With more than 400 national park sites, L.L.Bean could showcase the diversity of outdoor park experiences.
In the summer of 2019 L.L.Bean made the bold decision to bring the outdoors to everyone, regardless of where they were. “All of our campaigns begin with an insight and we build from that,” explained Michele Martin, Senior Manager of Brand Amplification at L.L.Bean. “The insight here was that people struggle to maximize time outside in the summer – which can feel like a very short season. We wanted to make it possible for them to enjoy it as much as possible.”
This insight bore “S’more Out of Summer”, an experiential road show that visited music festivals and fairs, hosted free outdoor activities – including s’mores roasting – and set up backyard campsites all over America including Boston, Buffalo, Madison, and New York City. The campaign integrated NPF’s PARKTRACKS, an innovative, 12-minute, Find Your Park audio experience designed to help counter the hustle and bustle of urban life with the unique sounds of the national parks.
The S’more out of Summer tour helped raise awareness of NPF’s Find Your Park goals and the partnership with L.L.Bean and America’s national parks. “When we built our overall campaign, we knew that PARKTRACKS would be an amazing enhancement and opportunity for attendees to take a break and have this auditory experience.” Michele said. At the experiential events, PARKTRACKS garnered 50,000 impressions while on the S’more Tour Sounds of the National Parks had 1,000,000 impressions, giving huge visibility to the parks.
“NPF played a key role from development to execution including helping us make major decisions, like which cities to visit and arranging a local park ranger for key sites that guests could interact with,” said Kayla Quint, Senior Partnership Marketing Planner at L.L.Bean. “Encouraging everyone to discover the restorative power of national parks, especially ones close to home, through NPF is a cause we believe in.”
Build Excitement Through Co-Branded Products
With L.L.Bean’s unmatched range of products for the outdoors coupled with the endless creative inspiration of our national parks, development of exciting co-branded product was a natural part of the L.L.Bean/NPF partnership. The National Park Collection launched in 2019 with 20 products, including totes, hats, shirts, patches, bandanas, and camp mugs, and 20 percent of the purchase price of each product was donated to NPF. Since its launch, the collection has proved to be a commercial and partnership success, selling more than 21,000 units and providing more than an $80,000 giveback to NPF.
Invest in Introductory Park Programs
In addition to inspiring a love of outdoors through creative experiences, products and cause marketing activations, L.L.Bean wanted to ensure it was making a direct impact. With NPF, L.L.Bean is investing in introductory park programs like Junior Ranger Angler, that connects young people to the outdoors, creating a new generation of park stewards. With L.L.Bean’s support – both financial and via in-kind fishing equipment donations, Junior Ranger has expanded to include the Junior Ranger Angler program, encouraging kids to enjoy the vast recreational opportunities of the national parks with their families. The angler program and workbook include how-to’s like “how to cast” and “how to tie knots” as well as educational materials about fish biodiversity, threats to fish species, safety tips, fishing gear basics, and a map of all NPS fishing locations in parks.
Insights from the Expert
- Create a unified voice: L.L.Bean and NPF’s shared goals and dedication to upfront planning allowed both teams to take advantage of the power of our shared voice.
- Build upon current campaigns: NPF’s innovative campaigns and experiences, including PARKTRACKS, Meet Ups & Teach Ups, Stand Where Heroes Stood, and their Ambassador video series, have allowed L.L.Bean to build on NPF’s concepts and integrate them into larger seasonal campaigns.
- Bring your mission to life: NPF/NPS’ commitment to finding impactful stories and a portfolio of digital resources enabled L.L.Bean to have relevant assets to share as tangible expressions of our shared mission of making the outdoors accessible for all Americans.