Bringing Together Experts in the Outdoor Industry to Solve its Greatest Challenges
The North Face (TNF) was founded in 1966 with the goal of preparing outdoor athletes for the rigors of their next adventure. Today it is a leading outdoor brand, creating athlete-tested, expedition-proven products that help people explore and test the limits of human potential.
The North Face’s mission is to provide the best gear for our athletes and the modern-day explorer, support the preservation of the outdoors, and inspire a global movement of exploration. Together National Park Foundation (NPF) and The North Face, two experts in the great outdoors, are working hand-in-hand to protect our national parks and engage the next generation or park stewards.
Beginning in 2015, TNF and NPF partnered to advance the Explore Fund. From 2010-2020, the Explore Fund Grant Program increased access and drove equity in the outdoors by funding nonprofits focused on enabling exploration and loving wild places.
“NPF has been a key partner in helping us get the needed resources to organizations working to increase access to public lands,” said Eric Raymond, Director of Social Impact & Advocacy at The North Face. The grant program provided a strong and successful foundation for continued partnership growth.
However, both NPF and TNF recognized that the ability to scale impact could be limitless if there were innovate opportunities to engage TNF’s stakeholders, particularly its customers, in the commitment to the national parks.
As TNF and NPF were looking to expand the partnership there were three core strategic priorities:
- Leverage the TNF brand and the iconic national parks to engage customers in the outdoors
- Positively impact key sustainability challenges facing our national parks
- Increase NPF brand visibility among its national park visitor constituents
To achieve these priorities, TNF and NPF engaged in two core campaigns, The North Face’s Bottle Source Program and Giving Tuesday.
"You can't have an outdoor industry without the great outdoors. The National Park Foundation is a leader in preserving and creating more access to some of the most stunning places in the world."
Bottle Source Program
The TNF Bottle Source program was developed using a cyclical, 360-degree approach to help solve park sustainability challenges. "Through the Bottle Source Program, we sourced plastic waste from three national parks: Yosemite, Grand Teton, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks. We pulled over 400,000 pounds of plastic bottles that were recycled into t-shirts and hoodies." The NPF campaign of the program, which ran from 2018 to 2019, donated $1 to NPF for each product produced, contributing over $220,000 for sustainability projects within the National Park System. This funding supported water refill stations at Great Smoky Mountains, recycling containers at Yosemite, a recycling transport system at Grand Teton, replaced solar batteries for SolarBee Water Tank Mixers at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and helped install recycling sorting stations at Yellowstone National Park.
Giving Tuesday Program
The North Face added a second cause marketing program for the holidays, tapping into the outdoor connection and engagement of its audience. During the Giving Tuesday Promotion, The North Face donated $1 for every item purchased online during the first week of December up to $300,000. Customers were given the opportunity to vote for where these dollar(s) went among three charities, which included NPF. The campaign was promoted via social media, with each charity being individually highlighted via Facebook and Twitter. The fundraiser was by far the most successful holiday fundraiser ever for The North Face. "I think our success had a lot to do with the three national charities we selected, the National Park Foundation being the most popular," said Hannah Abuzaineh, the Senior Manager of Social Impact and the Explore Fund at The North Face.
"NPF was the #1 choice of our customers. Of the $300,000 we committed to the fundraiser, NPF received the lion's share."
Insights from the Experts
From a business perspective, The North Face’s partnership with NPF is valuable because it provides an authentic brand affiliation with America’s national parks and expertise through NPF’s dedicated account management team.
- Align Partnership with Customer Values: “We’re an outdoor and exploration-focused company,” said Eric. “The parks are important to our customers and to our business. NPF is our main connection to the National Park System.” Most know that TNF’s logo is inspired by Half Dome at Yosemite National Park, but for The North Face, the relationship with the parks runs much deeper than imagery, it is part of the brand mission.
- Work with a Dedicated Team that Delivers Value: Brand alignment, sales, and equitable access are all important to The North Face, but so is working with an outstanding group of people. “The team at NPF is just great to work with,” said Eric. “They’re strategic, creative, thoughtful, and responsive on a very high level.” In addition, NPF, “helps us navigate the complexities of a federal agency and positions us for success.” The NPF account team facilitates and guides companies through common pitfalls and challenges of partnership, which provides a tremendous value.
- Engage with Different Business Units: Eric and Hannah agree that the company’s connection with NPF runs deep in several areas, and that they saw an opportunity to engage with other departments and areas within the business. “You can’t have an outdoor industry without the great outdoors. The National Park Foundation is a leader in preserving and creating more access to some of the most stunning places in the world,” said Hannah.