Columbia Sportswear Reveals ‘Tested Tough’ Campaign

Yesterday, Columbia Sportswear rolled out its new campaign developed by the Portland creative agency North.  As promised the ads include Gert Boyle, Chairman, and the tag line “Tested Tough” in the Pacific Northwest.

According to The Oregonian the $50 million campaign (biggest in company history) will be rolled out in 63 markets across Europe, Asia, South America and North America.

The Oregonian:

Columbia executives hope the ads resonate more with consumers compared with what’s been offered the past decade, Columbia chief marketing officer Stuart Redsun said in an interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive.

“The majority of them over the last six or seven years were about specific products or technology that had little to do with the emotional side of the Columbia brand,” said Redsun, a one-time Nike and Under Armour marketing employee who has a University of Oregon journalism degree. “We will still talk about features and tech but they all will be under the lens of this brand umbrella which we called ‘Tested Tough.'”

To assist the brand, relate and resonate with its consumers, Columbia has also hired two Directors of Toughness.  After a month long search and reviewing over 3,000 applicants the company selected two individuals to travel the world and test gear for six months. All of which will be captured and shared on Columbia’s blog.  Meet Zach and Lauren:

This campaign has the opportunity to show consumers what the brand is about and give them something they can identify.  Gert (91) will likely resonate most with Baby Boomers to Generation X and The Directors of Toughness (25 and 22) will likely connect with Generation Y-Z.

I look forward to following Zach and Lauren on their journey around the globe as well as monitoring the success of the campaign.

Gert Boyle is Back in Columbia Sportswear’s New Ads

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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.

From AdWeek:

“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.