CLIENT // THE NORTH FACE
ASSIGNMENT // DISCOVER YOUR TRAIL
The North Face is a legend in the outdoor adventure space.
But the approach they pioneered—sponsoring the exploits of extreme outdoor athletes—is no longer as own-able or relevant as it once was.
What they need, today, is a new chapter in their story. One that is true to their adventurous spirit. But can speak to a broader, wider, more diverse audience.
We call this audience, The Next Generation of Trail. They are an amalgamation of avid trail runners and hikers. Some run in pairs, others hike twenty deep. Some crush mountain trails, others stroll city parks. What unites them is their love for the trail. We set out to uncover, why.
One of the first things the Next Gen taught us became the premise of our campaign; the idea that there is a trail for everyone. And that whether you're a newbie or a trail junkie, a nature lover or a thrill seeker, if you get out there and keep trying, you'll eventually discover your trail.
Next Gen's love of trail differed greatly from motifs past. There was very little talk of testing limits or overcoming adversity. Instead, it was more about the trail making them feel whole and human. Or in other words, like a kid again. Out there in it, with their friends, enjoying the moment rather than fretting about the past or the future.
With the work, we wanted to tell real stories about real athletes. But, in the process, broaden the definition of what it means to be an outdoor athlete. So we focused our narrative lens on trail lovers that advertisers typically ignore: hike clubs, people of color, underrepresented communities, and people with different body types.
To capture our stories in the most authentic way, we met our subjects on the trail. In easy-to-access locations that didn't require an expensive plane ticket to reach. We used hand drawn quotes (rather than clever headlines) to illuminate their stories. And hired a skate photographer to document the process, so that our work looked and felt more human and authentic than other outdoor brands.
These true stories of Next Gen trail lovers is only the beginning. In the months to come, we'll be exploring activations that actually help people discover their trail. In the meantime, thanks for listening and see you out there.