North Face Beefs Up Year-Round Marketing With Spring Push

Company Shifts From Outdoor Retailer to Active Brand

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The North Face is stepping up its year-round marketing efforts with a major spring campaign that breaks today, a departure for a retailer that typically only runs big pushes during the fall and winter seasons.

Called "I Train For," the campaign aims to reach the growing number of consumers who lead active lifestyles and spend more time training throughout the year. The dual goal is to promote The North Face's activewear line, Mountain Athletics.

The year-round strategy is part of The North Face's shift from an outdoor apparel retailer to an active and lifestyle brand. "[Consumers] see the North Face as a powerful growing active brand that has a key connection to their life," said Todd Spaletto, president. "It's important to maintain that connection with consumers year-round."

The spring push, created by Mekanism, comes on the heels of the largest marketing push in the company's history, called "Your Land," which began last fall. The new effort carries on the emotional messaging introduced in that campaign by urging consumers to train and explore the lands around them.

"A very unique part of our brand is a connection to those outdoor environments," said Mr. Spaletto. "We encourage people to push their limits and feed their soul. Our goal is to extend that messageā€¦ and then introduce this new dimension around training."

The brand was encouraged to beef up its marketing presence beyond the fourth quarter after realizing that customers use The North Face products throughout the year. "It sets the table for us to make an unprecedented spring investment," said Mr. Spaletto, who declined to reveal the budget for the push.

The effort includes a 30-second TV spot that will run on ABC, ESPN, Comedy Central and TBS, as well as print, social and digital elements such as a sponsorship of Xbox's fitness app and a Spotify playlist generator. The retailer is also partnering with the fitness organization November Project to sponsor free outdoor workouts in Boston, Mass., Chicago, Ill., New York, N.Y., Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, Calif., and is outfitting the group's instructors with Mountain Athletics gear in the 17 markets in which it operates. The company will also promote its Mountain Athletics app, which launched last June and offers goal-based training programs and tracking tools.

The North Face is on track to reach its current revenue goal of $3.3 billion by 2017, up from $2.3 billion in 2014, Mr. Spaletto said.

Key to that growth is maintaining The North Face's overarching brand message of exploration, which will resurface in its upcoming global fall and winter efforts; investing heavily in research and development, including Thermoball winter wear and FuseForm rainwear protection; evolving the Mountain Athletics line; and expanding its outdoor footwear collection, Mr. Spaletto said. To this end, the retailer will also be relaunching its premiere Summit Series line later this year, he added.

The North Face, owned by Greensboro, N.C.-based VF Corporation, spent $13 million on U.S. measured media in 2014, according to Kantar Media.

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