Filson Honors the US Forest Service
By Alex Hillinger // Curvejumping
This is a case study about how taking a fundamentally different, Curvejumping-esque approach to this Filson x The US Forest Service campaign led to the company’s most successful marketing effort in its storied history.
Filson, a 120 year old Seattle-based heritage brand, came to us with an interesting opportunity: to produce the marketing campaign around the brand's upcoming product collaboration with the US Forest Service. The only catch - Forest Service employees could not wear Filson apparel or directly endorse the company.
The US Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public lands in all 50 states, but this ubiquity and the department's understated personality have made it difficult for people to get too excited about it.
We saw this as an opportunity for Filson to raise the bar on the quality of stories it tells to its community across all of its communication channels and do the Forest Service a solid in the process.
1. Convey the badass-ness of the men and women of the US Forest Service in as raw, honest and human a way as we were capable of doing, through a series of photo essays and short films designed for digital media.
2. Focus on Filson's backyard - the Pacific Northwest. Based on the strength of this concept, the Forest Service allowed us unprecedented access to USFS smokejumper bases, helicopter rappel bases and hot shot crews in Washington and Oregon as they were preparing for the 2017 fire season.
3. Highlight the connection between the work of the US Forest Service and the importance of conserving America's public lands. This is the "aha" moment we were going for -- that people only need to make this connection to see the Forest Service as a fundamentally different (and much cooler) organization.
The team was absolutely the most important aspect of this project, hands-down. To achieve what we wanted to achieve was going to require assembling an A Team of creative talent, capable of working in intense conditions with minimal direction and able to bring 100% of their focus to making something truly great.
To create the visual stories, we reached out to photographer Cole Barash whose photo essays of Hawaii's North Shore hardcore surf communities and Icelandic fishing villages have made us want to work with him for a while. We also knew Cole as a snowboard photographer tough enough to handle harsh conditions and big personalities.
Cole recommended we engage videographer Brandon Kuzma, which turned out to be the pivotal decision in how this campaign came to life. Kuzma's urban skate sensibility and eye for cinematography really gave this campaign a raw, cinematic beauty that transcends its intended purpose.
To name the entire creative team involved in this production would take several pages, but a few standouts to mention:
Alex Carleton: Filson's creative visionary. Ali Helnwein: composer of the original film score. Ben Masters: Filson's wizard-like art director. Chris Kornelis: Copywriter/editor extraordinaire. TheGoodLife! producers of our NYC kickoff event.
We invited Backbone Media to handle media buying and public relations for this campaign. They were made for this role and gave us a quote about how it's performing:
"The paid campaign has seen huge success at both acquiring new customers and driving sales for Filson. We’re seeing conversion metrics at the highest levels, well above our benchmarks. A lot of this engagement is being driven by the quality of content that Alex and his team produced."
While we envisioned most of the activations around this campaign would occur online, aspects such as Filson's print catalog and launch events offered unique opportunities to bring this campaign into people's living rooms and cities.
30 second film trailer
3 minute short film
15 second Instagram cut
Filson.com homepage takeover
Filson 708 Catalog takeover
Filson x USFS Launch Event
Thought Leadership Series interviews