How did REI spend Earth Month?The glory of a gas-breathing SUV


Screenshots of REI’s “Run through Sky Island” advertising campaign sponsored by Ford. (YouTube)

Outdoor retailer REI calls climate change “the greatest existential threat facing members’ enjoyment of outdoor life and the survival of REI Corp.”The company has Pledge We will cut global warming emissions in half over the next 10 years. commitment Created by President Biden at the Earth Day Summit on Thursday.

But that doesn’t stop REI from using its eco-friendly image to help Ford promote gas-breathing SUVs.

so A series of ads and videos Released this week, the latest automaker-sponsored REI records the journey of four cyclists across a 220-mile route through Arizona. Sky island odyssey.. The video contains lots of fascinating shots and admiration for Ford Bronco Sport that accompanies bikers in gear-packed off-road desert terrain.

“Ford Bronco Sport is a very good option for this. It has high clearance and four-wheel drive,” said Rennecefer, one of the hottest cyclists, titled “Making Bronco Sport the Ultimate Outdoor Rig.” Described in the video. .. Leaning on the trunk of a compact SUV, Necefer explains how this vehicle provides bikers with a “a little more comfortable experience.”

The Ford Bronco Sport SUV will appear in the ad.

Screenshots of REI’s “Run through Sky Island” advertising campaign sponsored by Ford. (YouTube)

Cars and trucks are America’s largest source of climate pollution and transportation is responsible Almost 30% Of the country’s carbon emissions.That’s why Biden wants to install 500,000 electric vehicle charging stationsAnd why Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the end of sales of petrol cars in California By 2035..

Jamie Henn, founder of the advocacy group Fossil Free Media, is also why advertising campaigns like REI are so dangerous.

“REI, with 20 million co-op members and millions of customers, is one of the most influential voices in the United States on nature maintenance and environmental issues,” said Heng. “And here they are advertising internal combustion engines that will earn terrible miles per gallon in 2021.”

“Creativity has consequences,” he added. “When REI makes such a partnership, it is read as an approval for these cars, which means having a large muscle car SUV burning gas and coming out naturally. “

REI spokesman Megan Behrbaum said in an email that the company has partnered with Ford to “create content that allows people to see people living an active lifestyle outdoors.” The ad features several Native American cyclists, including Necefer, a member of Navajo Nation and the founder of the outdoor equipment company Natives Outdoors.

However, Behrbaum has approved “Load Up. Gas Up. Get Out” in the subject line of this month’s REI email to introduce members to the Ford campaign. — It was “inconsistent” with the company’s mission.

According to a copy of the email shared with The Times, REI’s director of sustainability, Matt Thurston, went a step further and emailed frustrated co-op members “I wasn’t aware of the ad before its release.” I did.

“Since then, I’ve had a conversation with the team leading the series of tasks to convey your (and my) concerns about the message,” Thurston told members. “They understand the opportunity to align our message with our environmental spirit.”

Global warming Serious threat For many natural landscapes loved by campers, hunters and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Rising temperatures, reduced snow cover, and more devastating wildfires are just some of the dangers.

In Joshua Tree National Park, the species from which the name is derived Disappear slowly..Bald eagle in the Grand Canyon May become extinct..

At REI, environmental responsibility is at the core of branding. Description As “another kind of company” that is willing to “prioritize purpose over profit and act for the long-term interests of its members and communities”.Company provides Detailed appearance Learn how to reduce energy consumption and invest in renewable energy sources such as solar with carbon dioxide emissions.

“The climate crisis is human-led and is a direct result of the actions we take every day,” REI said on its website. “As a member-owned co-op, we are responsible for maintaining the long-term health of the planet and our community.”

A provocative tag for a limited edition pair of Patagonia stand-up shorts.

A provocative tag for a limited edition pair of Patagonia stand-up shorts. (Patagonia)

Like some outdoor retailers, Including Patagonia and The North FaceAs the Trump administration dismantled environmental rules, REI became more and more political.the company Slammed Utah Bear Ears and Grand Staircase-Trump’s decision to roll back safeguards at Escalante National Monument “30×30” campaign To protect 30% of US land and waters by 2030.

These positions stood to help the company’s bottom line. A Research Entrusted by the Western Priority Center, a conservation advocacy group, strong bipartisan support for keeping public land untouched has been seen, with 64% of voters comparing to a mid-30% score for oil. We are looking positively at outdoor retailers such as REI and Patagonia. And a coal company.

The ideological diversity among outdoor enthusiasts (such as urban liberals buying hiking packs and rural conservatives stocking fishing gear), unlike most other companies, drives public opinion with these retailers. Means you can.

“When it comes to governing voters’ decisions, they have a big ax to swing around, or a big weight to throw, because the personal identities of so many people are tied to the activities they participate in. It ’s all political parties. ” Jordan Smith, director of the Utah State University Institute for Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, told The Times last year.

Meanwhile, major car companies are looking to trusted brands to support the ever-growing sales of electric vehicles.

For example, Chevrolet, Partnership with Disney Earlier this year, in a commercial promoting Bolt EUV, basically an electric SUV. The 90-second spot featured Star Wars, Peter Pan, and other iconic movie characters and motifs.Chevrolet’s parent company, General Motors Super bowl ad A lineup of electric vehicles starring Will Ferrell, Kenan Thompson and Awkwafina.

Unlike GM Stop selling gasoline-powered passenger cars by 2035Ford has not promised to phase out the combustion engine.But that’s what it’s aiming for Carbon neutral by 2050 It plans to invest $ 22 billion in electric vehicles by 2025.

Car makers too California side In the fight against the Trump administration over fuel economy rules.And that is now Sale or development of electric version Among all its most famous vehicles Including F-150 pickup truck..

But Hen believes that companies that want to do good in the world need to do more than reduce carbon dioxide emissions. They also need to consider their cultural footprint.

His advocacy group has a clean creative campaign that puts pressure on public relations and advertising executives Stop working with coal, oil and gas companies whose products are driving the climate crisis.. It also urges climate-sensitive companies to promise to stop hiring advertising agencies with customers in the fossil fuel industry.

REI declined it upon request, Hen said.

“It broke my heart. I had my wedding register at REI,” he said.

Interior of REI's flagship store in Seattle.

Interior of REI’s flagship store in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / AP)

Prior to partnering with Ford, REI considered “how each company shares values ​​on topics such as climate change and racial equality.”She pointed to Ford Bronco Wild Fund, A portion of the proceeds from Bronco’s sales will be donated to a non-profit organization focused on protecting public land and making it accessible to the outdoors for all.

“In establishing Bronco as a trusted outdoor lifestyle brand, we would like to partner with other like-minded brands that share similar values ​​and missions,” Ford spokeswoman Debra Hottering said in an email. I have. “As an automobile manufacturer, we are trying every day to make the world a better place.”

For REI, the most important decision is ultimately the co-op member owner.

For Bruce Grossan, an email complaining about Ford’s partnership prompted a settlement response from REI’s Sustainability Officer, the only reasonable solution is for outdoor retailers to end their advertising campaigns and make it public. To apologize.

“REI should be our companion. It’s discouraging to chase after a company that has a sustainability policy. If they aren’t taking a walk, why?”

This story was originally Los Angeles Times..