Care about clean water, clean air, free-flowing rivers? Patagonia says vote for what you care about.

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While politicos and public interest organizations court undecided voters and NASCAR Dads this election season, Patagonia, Inc., the outdoor gear and apparel company, has launched a national and regional voter registration and education campaign focused on an untapped segment of the population: people who love the outdoors but who may not necessarily connect their passion to their politics. Employing the communication tools the company uses to sell technical outdoor clothing, Patagonia’s Vote the Environment campaign encourages customers who value the planet’s remaining wild places to make the environment their deciding issue this November 2.

“When we learned that 30 percent of Sierra Club members didn’t vote in the 2000 presidential elections, we felt we had a responsibility to help get out the vote in the outdoor community,” said Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia. “We’re registering people who have never voted before, and we’re asking those who are registered to make the environment their first priority on Election Day.”

The campaign represents the first time in company history that Patagonia has used its resources and reputation to urge customers and others to cast their ballots for the environment on a national scale.

“We believe the environment should be the trump card issue for every voter today. Without a viable planet, there are no other issues. Jobs, national security, healthcare – none of it matters if the earth is at risk,” said Rick Ridgeway, Executive Vice President of Marketing. “We’ve always supported environmental activism – people working on the front lines on behalf of the planet. To us, voting is the most powerful form of environmental activism.”

Among Patagonia athletes who have gotten involved in the get-out-the-vote effort is kayaker Willie Kern. A river-runner respected by generations of paddlers, Willie is recognized internationally as the voice of communication and safety on the river. He’s a boater who finds great pleasure in the complete descent, and supports his river-led evolution through life by guiding, teaching and consulting. Willie has pioneered many notable descents throughout North and Central America, Europe and the Himalaya, including a first descent down Tibet’s Yarlung Tsangpo. While the 31-year old twin would claim that his heart remains in residence in Moscow, Vermont, his latest adventure has him working with The Nature Conservancy on a massive conservation initiative in NW Yunnan, China. He is helping TNC assess the potential for cultivating a robust and sustainable river industry as an alternative to otherwise ecologically destructive development plans in one of the poorest economic, yet biologically rich, provinces in China.

The campaign’s centerpiece is a series of visually arresting advertisements appearing in alternative weeklies and college newspapers across the country. Designed to reach young people who know Patagonia and value the outdoors, the ads will run in cities with a large concentration of Patagonia customers including Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; Reno, NV; Denver and Boulder, CO. The ads will also appear in outdoor magazines popular with Patagonia customers, including one in the September/October issue of Canoe & Kayak.

A second set of ads feature world-class athletes Chris Malloy, a champion surfer, and Dean Potter, an internationally renowned climber, with the headline “I’ve never voted…” along with explanations of why, for the first time in their adult lives, they are voting in the November elections on behalf of the planet and the surf breaks and big walls they treasure.

Additional components of the campaign include:
In-store displays and voter registration.
Sponsorship of the independent film Monumental: David Brower’s Fight for Wild America (Loteria Films), a documentary about the “grandfather of the environmental movement,” which highlights the power of individuals to protect wild places.
Online education and voter registration through
Catalog essays on “Voting the Environment” by prominent authors from across the political spectrum including Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Russell Train, head of the Environmental Protection Agency under Ford and Nixon, Deb Callahan, President of the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, and Yvon Chouinard.
Customer email alerts reminding customers to take action by voting.
Radio ads.
Online buzz marketing campaign.
“Vote the Environment” t-shirt sales in Patagonia retail stores and select outdoor specialty shops. Patagonia is donating $5 from the sale of each shirt to the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, a non-partisan non-profit organization.

The film Monumental, which is screening across the country this fall, tells the story of Sierra Club leader David Brower’s quest to protect and preserve some of the nation’s most treasured places including the Grand Canyon, Redwood National Park and Point Reyes National Seashore. “So many of us – whether we surf, kayak, hike, bike, snowboard or climb mountains – treasure the outdoors. I’m thrilled to be a part of Patagonia’s Vote the Environment campaign and the effort to get outdoor enthusiasts to vote on behalf of the places they love,” said Monumental filmmaker Kelly Duane. Monumental will be playing at the Clinton St. Theater in Portland, Sept. 24-30. For more information, visit

Patagonia has enlisted over 20 outdoor specialty shops that sell its products to join in the campaign. The stores will sell Vote the Environment T-shirts and distribute materials such as bumper stickers and catalog essay brochures. “David Brower used to say, ‘There’s no business to be done on a dead planet,'” said Michael Crooke, President and CEO of Patagonia. “We’re asking our customers to take that to heart and to recognize that protecting the environment should be our country’s number one priority.”

Patagonia, Inc., designs, markets, and distributes outdoor gear and apparel through its catalog, retail stores, wholesale dealers, and Web site. As a member of 1% For the Planet, the company donates one percent of sales to the restoration and protection of the natural environment and has granted over $20 million to grassroots environmental organizations in the form of financial and in-kind donations since 1985. Patagonia offers products made from organic cotton, hemp, and recycled materials. For more information on 1 percent For the Planet, see