Newsweek features Climate Depot’s Morano:The True Face of the North Face
BY LEE HABEEB
It started with a nice gesture. Adam Anderson, the CEO of Innovex Downhole Solutions, wanted to buy his employees a Christmas gift. So he ordered 400 North Face jackets and asked that their corporate logo be included.
Then came the bad news. The North Face company would sell Innovex the jackets but wouldn’t include the energy company’s logo. The reason? Innovex was an oil and gas company, and it would be a bad thing for North Face’s public image to associate itself with the industry.
Not happy with that answer, Anderson struck back with some public relations of his own. It turns out the vast majority of North Face’s apparel—its hoodies, snow pants, coats and many other items in its product line, like backpacks and tents—are made with polyester, polyurethane and nylon, all of which come from petroleum. Even its fancy fleece jackets are made of polyester.
“The irony in this statement is that your jackets are made from oil and gas products the hardworking men and women of our industry produce,” Anderson noted in a letter he sent to Steve Rendle, CEO of VF Corp. (which includes the North Face brand), on LinkedIn. “I think this stance by your company is counter-productive virtue signaling, and I would appreciate you re-considering this stance.”
Anderson wasn’t finished. “We should be celebrating the benefits of what oil and gas do to enable the outdoors lifestyle your brands embrace,” Anderson concluded. “Without Oil and Gas there would be no market for nor ability to create the products your company sells.”
Anderson’s letter went viral. The North Face PR team went underground. Their real-life dependency on oil wasn’t part of their global branding efforts.
Two weeks ago, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association decided to have some fun with the situation, presenting the outdoor gear company with its first-ever Extraordinary Customer Award. Dan Haley, president and CEO of COGA, even held a mock award ceremony. “I think too often we think of oil and natural gas as just as fuels,” Haley said. “But we often forget just how many other things we have and enjoy in the 21st Century that are made possible because of oil and natural gas,” he added, making reference not just to the North Face product line but also to many other products Americans depend on.
“Things like electronics, sports equipment, medical devices, appliances and even dentures and soft contacts,” Denver’s CBS4 News reporter Shaun Boyd noted in her coverage. The video of that local report went viral, proving that humor is a better weapon in public relations battles than outrage. North Face was unavailable for comment.
In her report, Boyd also noted that “the CEOs of oil and gas companies lampooned the North Face, pointing out that its parent company is building a hangar at Centennial Airport for its private jet fleet.”
In 2019, the Denver Business Journal reported that the brand paid $10.3 million for 1.3 acres of land to house planes used by its executives for global business travel. Two of its jets are Dassault Falcon 7X’s, which cost $54 million a pop, have a range of 5,950 nautical miles and are powered by three Pratt & Whitney turbofans that deliver 6,400 pounds of thrust each. That too is something North Face doesn’t include in its branding.
According to The Washington Times, Climate Depot founder Marc Morano called the North Face incident “a prime example of a company pandering to the corporate woke trend.”
“If North Face wants to prove their stance is more than virtue signaling, they should refuse to sell their clothing to any customers who are employed in any fossil fuel company,” Morano told the Times. “Or how about refusing to sell to any customers who used fossil fuels to travel to and from their stores? If not, why not?”
Morano asked some great questions, but don’t wait for answers from North Face. The fact is, the company depends upon the very fossil fuels it purports to abhor, not only to make its products but also in connection with the industries and activities it depends on to propel its growth.
Take skiing. North Face sells some fancy gear to skiers around the world. Its A-Cad jackets list for $599, Brigandine jackets for $749, Purist Bibs for $549, TNF X Smith Mag goggles for $280 and the TNF X Smith Code Helmet for $230. All of which are made with and out of oil.
Where do those skiers wearing that North Face gear prefer to ski? The mountain ranges of Florida, New Jersey, Texas or Iowa? The fact is, the top 10 best ski destinations, U.S. News and World Reports notes, are in Colorado. In places like Breckenridge, Vail, Aspen, Steamboat Springs and Telluride. Locations in Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico rounded out the list.