Patagonia’s Dam Movie Is an Unbranded PSA for Raze Awareness

Outdoor gear and apparel brand Patagonia made a damn movie.

Never content with its own sterling position in corporate sustainability, the privately held company is releasing “DamNation,” a documentary to raise awareness for the environmental consequences of the nation’s 80,000 dams.

According to the company’s charismatic 75-year-old surfing/mountaineering founder Yvon Chouinard, the company put in $500,000 into making the film and will spend more to promote it (Note: the company, not the man).

Private companies can do what they want, and it’s notable that Chouinarard remains the spokesperson for such projects while CEO Rose Marcario–recently bumped up from COO/CFO–focuses on the hard business including a $20 million investment in sustainable processing. The company has doubled the scale of operations and tripled profits since she joined six years ago.

The Los Angeles Times story on the release discusses how the the film was kept unbranded. If Patagonia stands to gain anything, it’s awareness of its line of sustainable $13 salmon jerky. “I couldn’t care less about making more money or making more clothes. I want to use business to inspire solutions to the environmental crisis”, said the founder.

The release of the movie is timed with a petition aimed at catching President Obama’s attention on the issue of “deadbeat dams”. DamNation has done well on the film fest circuit and opens in Portland on May 9th.

A lot more on  “America’s Most Unlikely Business Guru” Chouinard and his company’s background/sustainability efforts can be found in this Wall Street Journal profile from 2012.

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