After REI pulled a 2015 Golden State Warriors-like run through the advertising industry awards season over the last year for it's great #OptOutside campaign, many of us were left thinking, what next? Well, one answer comes this week in the form of a documentary about a group of people that took up one hiker's unfulfilled dream that might have you weeping into your granola.
Back in June after winning big at Cannes Lions, REI chief creative officer Ben Steele told me that for work to really resonate, it has to act as truly as it can to the core instincts of who they've been from day one, pondering questions like, how do you want to spend your time? What matters to you? What do you need to feel fulfilled in your life? "I think a lot of people are feeling the same thing, that it's not just about stuff," Steele said. "That it is about where you want to be, who you want to be with, and how do you want to live a life well lived."
With "Paul's Boots," the brand has certainly remained true to that. Onward!
What: A 37-minute documentary chronciling how 40 hikers from 14 states hiked the Appalachian Trail carrying three pairs of Paul Evans's boots to fulfill a dream he was never able to fulfill himself
Who: REI, Duct Tape Then Beer
Why We Care: Look, after last year's massive success, not many would've blamed REI for just making more versions of the same thing . . . like #OptingOutsideAgain. But the brand stays true to its image and shine to unconventional projects with this 37-minute doc that perfectly illustrates the passion and community of loving and living in the outdoors. The brand has hosted screenings and Q&A sessions with the hikers in Washington, D.C., Portland, Atlanta, and Seattle, with ticket sales proceeds donated to support Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trail maintenance. There are also shorter, complementary videos on the REI blog.
What: A new Sprite ad in which spokesperson LeBron James most definitely does not tell you to drink Sprite
Who: Sprite, Wieden+Kennedy New York
Why We Care: It's tough enough to be original, let alone original and funny with a celebrity athlete endorsement ad. But combine some wink-wink self-awareness with the biggest hoops star on earth flexing some pretty damn good comic timing, Lil Yachty in an ice cave, and cool influencer trolling, and you might just demand you crack open a cold Sprite yourself.
What: A new short film aiming to make the social and business case for Fair Trade-certified clothing, and its potential impact on changing the global garment industry for the better
Who: Patagonia, Little Village Films
Why We Care: Patagonia's business is as strong as ever—profits have tripled since 2008—and it is betting big on Fair Trade. With 11 Fair Trade-certified styles in fall 2014, this fall the brand has 200 Fair Trade styles, and by next year it will be 300, or 30% of its entire product line. By profiling individual workers and factories, this short film makes the business case for Fair Trade by showing us the human benefits up close.
What: A new Tide ad, part of an overall campaign about those times when we'd like our laundry detergent to be extra, extra effective
Who: Tide, Saatchi & Saatchi New York
Why We Care: Who knew laundry could be funny? Well, Tide has since at least 2008. We picked "Pool Party," but really any of the spots in this campaign are in contention. It's just this one had the hilarious follow-up. Such a Dave thing.
What: A heartwarming health care ad about a window washer with super (empathy) powers
Who: Philips, Ogilvy & Mather London
Why We Care: Is it a bit cheesy? Sure, but come on. The ad uses anticipation and mystery to keep us watching, curious what this bumbling Spidey is all about before the final moments turn the whole thing into, "Awwwwwww!"