Iconic Ads: Patagonia – Don’t Buy This Jacket


As part of their advertising campaign in 2011, around Thanksgiving, Patagonia ran an advertisement with the headline “Don’t Buy This Jacket.”

Patagonia boldly took up a full-page ad in the Black Friday 2011 issue of The New York Times advising readers not to purchase their jackets. A note explaining why potential buyers shouldn’t purchase the jacket appeared underneath the photograph. Several aspects of the jacket’s production are highlighted, including the 36 gallons of water used (enough to meet the requirements of 45 people for a whole day), the 20 pounds of carbon dioxide generated (24 times the weight of the jacket), and the quantity of garbage created (two-thirds of its weight in waste).

The environmental damage caused by consumers has been made worse by the rise of fast fashion companies. Patagonia is one of the few companies that has kept loyal to its vision in a field where profit is prioritised above ethics (think: design theft, weight discrimination, and child labour). Many clothing companies have started sustainability programmes lately, but none have embodied this philosophy since Patagonia’s founding in 1973.

patagonia dont buy this jacket

Patagonia’s VP of environmental affairs, Rick Ridgeway, has climbed K2, sailed and walked through Borneo, and walked the 300 miles from the peak of Kilimanjaro to the coast. For a different reason, he is held in high regard. Ridgeway and his coworkers worked together to create the advertisement.

The advertisement was a masterful piece of marketing, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t honest. Patagonia was at the forefront of many of the activities that today go under the umbrella of “environmental sustainability,” such as the use of recycled textiles and the procurement of cotton from organic farms, long before the term became popular in the business world. Now that major corporations like Walmart and Nike are starting to follow Patagonia’s example, the company is facing a sobering realisation: their actions haven’t been sufficient. Trends show that no matter how many things Patagonia does to help the environment, it won’t be enough.

Even though the ad didn’t do what it was supposed to do (sales went up by 30% after the campaign), it did bring attention to a growing problem.

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