Takeit Outside: L.L. Bean And Mullen See Nature In A New Light
Images of snowcapped peaks and raging rivers often inhabit ads for outdoor products. But in a branding campaign for L.L. Bean, Mullen chose to bypass the extreme-adventure shots for a kinder, gentler outdoors.
“It’s the outdoors with a small ‘o,'” says creative director Edward Boches about the Wenham, Mass., shop’s first work for the Maine retailer since landing the business last June. “It’s the outdoors that’s right outside your kitchen window, not the outdoors four miles deep in the woods.”
The estimated $15 million print and TV campaign, shot last December in New Zealand, introduces the tagline, “Start here. Go anywhere,” inviting customers to create their own definition of the great outdoors. Three 30-second commercials broke nationally two weeks ago on network and cable TV, while six print executions are appearing in consumer publications.
Past campaigns, which had no tagline, positioned L.L. Bean as the place to go for family fun and outdoor activities. This effort, according to the client, puts a new spin on the old retailer, showing that its catalog is “more than boots and chamois shirts.”
Yet copywriter Jim Garaventi found it daunting to try and convey the vast amount of products available in the catalog. “How do you sell a catalog that has extreme-outdoor gear on one page and slippers three pages later?” he asks.
TV work features people enjoying outdoor activities, from swinging in a hammock to canoeing across a lake. Accompanied by acoustic music, one black-and-white spot shows a family frolicking on the beach as the surf breaks on the sand. “Go where stones skip,” the voiceover urges. “Where your only job is to build castles.” In another ad, a couple hikes through lush, verdant woods and across streams. “Go just past your neighborhood. Past the office. Just past gossip and politics and agendas,” says the voiceover.
A print ad shows a man wading through a placid lake to his moored sailboat; the body copy reads, “Don’t mistake a street address for where you actually LIVE.” In a small-space print ad, a boot sole is shown with two items mashed into the tread. Body copy points out that one is bubble gum. The other–bear scat.
“You always see these incredible illusions of danger and risk [in typical outdoor product ads], but the fact is, only a tiny group of people does that,” says Boches. “The rest of us take our kids to the beach or go on day hikes.
“You want to schlepp around the city? Great,” continues Boches. “You want to go hiking in Carlsbad Canyon? Great. You tell us which activity you want to do.”
Mullen hopes the campaign will make consumers see L.L. Bean–and outdoor life–in a new light. “‘Anywhere is wherever it is you want to go. It could be sitting in an Adirondack chair, reading a novel and watching the sun go down or wearing a pair of khakis on casual Friday,” says Boches. “It can represent physical locations or more emotional, spiritual levels.”
Or perhaps the incorporeal levels reached when catalog shopping.
Agency: Mullen, Wenham, Mass.
Client: L.L. Bean, Freeport, Maine
Creative Dir.: Edward Boches
Art Dir.: Greg Bokor
Copywriter: Jim Garaventi
Producer: Alyson Sunger
Prod. Co.: Striper Films, New York
Director: Daniel Barber
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