Patagonia's Gorgeous Cinematic Example Of A Brand Message That Isn't A "Brand Message"

Social media creative Jim Rudden recounts all the reasons to admire the breathtaking environmental documentary 180 South, inspired by the history and values of Patagonia's founder.

As the chief marketing officer of social media marketing agency Spredfast, Jim Rudden spends his days helping brands figure out how to have organic, relevant conversations with consumers. This is just one reason one of his favorite films of the past few years is 180 South, a breathtaking travel and environmental documentary featuring Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, who is at the top of Rudden's "personal hero list."

Directed by Chris Malloy, the film follows surfer Jeff Johnson as he retraces a 1968 trip that Chouinard took with North Face founder Doug Tompkins from Ventura, California, to Patagonia, Chile. "It's part travel documentary, part surf and rock climbing movie, part environmental documentary," says Rudden. "He has misadventures along the way, but he's also experiencing environmental effects on dams and rivers, some of the effects of global warming on Patagonia, and seeing some of the conservation that has been done all around the mountain he's going to go climb. So it's just this lush, beautiful video, and is never too much of one type of movie. It's a fascinating mix."

Photo by Jimmy Chin, Courtesy of Patagonia

The other thing Rudden admires about the film is that it is one of the most glowing examples of a piece of art that carries a brand's message without being a calculated piece of marketing--something that Chouinard has gotten pretty savvy about. "I'm personally a big brand fan of Patagonia," says Rudden. "The brand isn't obviously integrated into the film, but one of the amazing things about Patagonia is that they keep trying to rethink their business, saying, 'If our footprint is this, how can we make it this?' So they're innovators in, 'If this material doesn't exist, we'll go create it. Our parameters will be we can only use these kinds of raw materials because they degrade, or they're recyclable.' The film carries that message. And it has an amazing soundtrack."

[Images courtesy of Patagonia]

Add New Comment

2 Comments

  • I suspect that was intended here to make the connection between a mission and the output of that mission being the business Chounard started, Patagonia.... However, it's a wee touch tasteless, just a wee touch to co-opt the idea of the documentary film, a medium whose purpose is to engage in a meaningful social discourse, with branding. The purpose of branding is to cultivate and create meaning, if possible, inspire and in this sense I see why one would lean on 180 south to lend credibility to that notion. But to do that requires viewing the film an a pretty tasteless way- life, fully lived, as.... branding.