Brands start weighing in on the shutdown

The partial government shutdown is on track to become the longest in history

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Credit: Bloomberg

With the current partial government shutdown appearing on track to become the longest in U.S. history, some marketers are getting anxious and beginning to voice their concerns.

On Friday, Columbia Sportswear tweeted a missive from Chief Executive Tim Boyle. The Portland, Oregon-based retailer's position on the shutdown, which is now in its 21st day, was clear as it urged politicians to "work together to open our parks."

Columbia also took out full-page ads in some Friday newspapers with the same message. The family-owned outerwear brand tapped McCann Worldgroup as its global agency of record in September following a review.

The longest shutdown in history was a 21-day suspension in 1995 into 1996, according to CNN. The current partial shutdown, which began Dec. 22 as politicians failed to reach a budget deal over border wall funding, looks to be on its way to surpassing that record. While some entities, such as the Department of Defense, remain open, others, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation, Forest and National Parks Services, and Federal Communications Commission, have closed. The Smithsonian and National Zoo shut down in early January.

Other sportswear companies are also weighing in. On Jan. 4, REI tweeted its own report about the impact of the limited services available at federal public lands.

On Wednesday, the retailer said that national parks could use their entrance fees to maintain operations. Several news reports of overflowing toilets and a maintenance shortfall at parks have published since late December.

The North Face also voiced its support of parks by urging consumers to donate to the National Parks Foundation and using a #weareparks hashtag.

Brands are also supporting furloughed federal employees, who number in the hundreds of thousands and will miss paychecks Friday. Sweetgreen tweeted that those with government ID can get a free salad at its Washington D.C.-area locations.

The shutdown is also slowing the introduction of new beers because the agency in charge of approving beer labels, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, is not at work. The stoppage will have the biggest impact on craft brewers, which are constantly coming out with new brews. The Brewers Association, which represents craft brewers, warned on its website that even when the government reopens "there could be a backlog. Breweries should plan accordingly."

Craft beer fans are expressing their outrage on Twitter.


Contributing: E.J. Schultz

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