The Pacific Northwest’s toughest mother is back. According to AdWeek, Columbia Sportswear chairman, Gert Boyle, will make her return to commercials tomorrow with the tag line “Tested Tough.” If you ask her, she never left, “I’ve been coming to work at Columbia every day for more than 50 years. They just hadn’t pointed the camera at me in a while for some reason” (AdWeek Q&A).
Gert’s 91 years of life include: fleeing Nazi Germany, taking over the company when her husband died and foiling a kidnapping attempt. I’d say she’s the embodiment of “Tested Tough” and the campaign is in good hands.
“Most experts see Boyle’s return as a positive. “Older women are ‘in’—Joan Didion for Celine, Iris Apfel for Kate Spade so her resurrection of the ‘One Tough Mother’ persona could play into this,” said Michael Solomon, an industry consultant and professor of marketing at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Plus, ’90s nostalgia appeals to many consumers, so it makes sense for companies to leverage that trend if they can, said Matt Powell, an analyst at NPD Group. “Retro is a very important trend right now. I see no downside here,” he said.
However, Nick Clark, executive creative director at brand consultancy The Partners, injected a note of caution: “I’m concerned when a brand feels it has to revive an icon from a previous era. It seems to lack vision,” he said. “But, in its favor, it would be a distinctive approach for the category.”
Tune in tomorrow to determine if resurrecting Gert Boyle is a move in the right direction. I have a feeling it will pay dividends. If Gert’s sass, toughness and “mother/grand mother knows best” persona doesn’t warm your heart, then she can probably sell you something that will.