Sid Lee Wins Global AOR Duties for The North Face, Launches Anniversary Campaign

By Erik Oster 

Sid Lee won global agency of record status on The North Face nearly a year ago but has kept the news quiet until rolling out its first campaign. That work arrives in time for The North Face’s 50th anniversary, and it’s called a”Question Madness.”

The North Face account had formerly been with Mekanism, which won AOR duties in a review launched in late 2014 and rolled out the brand’s first official global campaign, entitled “Never Stop _______” in September of 2015. Sid Lee won the account in early 2016 under the leadership of Los Angeles managing partner Nicolas Van Erum, and all of its offices are working on the business.

It would appear that Mekanism has not been involved with this client in some time.


“Question Madness,” unsurprisingly, celebrates the extreme athletes so devoted to their cause that some might question their sanity, flipping the concept to instead “question madness” itself. It’s a fitting approach for a brand which began as a mountain climbing equipment retail store, whose name itself refers to the side of the mountain most difficult to scale.

The anthem ad at the center of the campaign opens with the line “It is weird having a ton of people questioning your motivation, questioning your sanity.” Set to Cat Stevens‘ “Miles From Nowhere,” the spot continues with a series of mountain athletes facing challenges that would send most people packing. There are falls, snow storms, bruised fingers and feet, but the name of the game is perseverance and the spot shifts tone to the athletes’ triumphs around its halfway point. Accompanying the footage are pairs of words, such as “calculated” and “crazy” on either side of a line, with them flipping place with a perspective shift.

“Question Madness,” which runs nearly two minutes long, will not run in abbreviated form on broadcast. Instead Sid Lee and The North Face are focusing exclusively on digital, launching first on Facebook, with support from a digital content series featuring select athletes. There’s also a social push based around the hashtag “#QuestionMadness.”

“This campaign was created for all consumers, with a focus on inspiring the next generation of people to experience success, joy and understanding on their own terms,” The North Face vice president of global marketing Tom Herbst told MarketingDaily. “The campaign is built around the unstoppable will and determination of our North Face athletes — a spirit that we believe lives in us all.”

“Some people look at our athletes’ expeditions and achievements, often realized at the coldest ends of the world or at the most dizzying and thin air of the highest peaks, and think they are quite mad,” he added. “For the first time, we are questioning what some consider mad and challenging that perception. Is it madness, or is it in fact progress? It is only through these feats that we test the limits of human endurance, that we understand the beautiful grandeur of nature, and feed our souls.”