The North Face Forces Customers to Have Fun

North Face
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The North Face is an outdoor product company that sells clothing and equipment for outdoor activities. The company typically focuses branding efforts on college age individuals who enjoy climbing, hiking, and camping. What brings The North Face to the spotlight is their creative branding attempt in South Korea.

The branding effort took place in a small section of a North Face store in South Korea. Groups of customers would walk into the room and start to browse the jackets hanging on the walls. Rock climbing holds were located behind the jackets at the back of the room.  When only one person was left in the room, the floor would disappear.  Yes, the floor would literally retract back into a wall, forcing confused shoppers to grab onto the rock climbing holds. As the floor disappears, a lower, padded floor is revealed below.

It gets even weirder, as the climbers clench to the wall as tight as they can, a lone jacket appears at the top of the room and a timer appears with 30 seconds on the clock. As they climb up to the jacket, they realize that they have to jump to reach it. You can see the hesitation on their faces at first, but as the time is about to run out, they are forced to make the choice. To jump? Or not to jump?

This takes branding to a whole new level. While most big brands are focusing on the digital environment, The North Face decided to focus on interactivity in the real world. North Face Korea has since posted the activity onto their YouTube page, which has received over 1.6 million views.

Let’s take a deeper look into this branding attempt and why it will most likely bring in more sales for The North Face. The outdoor company is a well-respected sponsor of many professional rock climbers, including Alex Honnold, the first person to climb Yosemite’s Half Dome with no safety gear. The North Face also understands how valuable the climbing experience is for their target consumer. The customers in the video may not have volunteered, but they experienced something unique, fun, and potentially rewarding if they were able to reach the jacket.

This branding attempt threw consumers into the experience without asking. When we are going about our normal daily activities, we are hesitant to volunteer to do something new, especially if it is a physical activity. Although these customers did not volunteer, they did get to experience something very unique.

The North Face brands itself as the supplier of outdoor goods to people who enjoy the outdoor lifestyle. What better way to brand their company than to show their target consumers (who value experiences) that The North Face values those experiences just as much. These customers were not professional rock climbers, or extreme sports athletes. They were regular people that were given the opportunity to experience something unique and memorable. It is too soon to tell if The North Face will see an increase in sales, however, they will definitely be remembered for their fun branding experience.

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