Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Dec 9, 2013

The North Face emphasises spirit of exploration with Jimmy Chin

SHANGHAI - The North Face's most recent campaign for China, entitled ‘The Next Explorer’, veers away from the brand's traditional product-led communications.

wide player in 16:9 format. Used on article page for Campaign.

The North Face focused its fall 2012 campaign on the Meru Kit, a line of equipment and clothing developed for its global brand ambassador Jimmy Chin to, for example, climb Mount Meru in Africa.

new TV spot still features Chin, but aims to reveal that "there is an explorer in us all" and asks its audience to think about what the brand really means to them by concentrating on the aspects of adventure.

Chin’s story is integral to the new campaign, according to Andrew Price, global chief creative officer of Factory Design Labs (The North Face's creative agency); Chin's parents followed a more conventional Chinese lifestyle, but he has followed his passion to explore. 

This dichotomy correlates with the Chinese market, as research carried out prior to the campaign launch that revealed two types of people in China: those who lead a scripted life and those who choose to explore.

“From an executive level, we agreed it was time for a marketing shift," Price said. "It was time for The North Face to supplement product messaging with a discussion about the experience of exploring the world.”

Neville Lin, APAC marketing director at The North Face, added that every Chinese person has an explorer inside, and "The North Face is the best catalyst and friend to help unleash that explorer". The brand hopes the "true and passionate emotion that exudes from the attitudes and stories of explorers such as Jimmy Chin", will resonate with the audience, Lin said. 

A March 2012 campaign by Ogilvy & Mather Shanghai also attempted to encourage action among sedentary urbanites. "To us, exploration is more than being out in the wild," Lin said. "It is discovering and celebrating the unknown every day. It is the joy of living like a curious kid every day. It is a journey that never stops inspiring us every day.”

The TV spot supports an integrated campaign that sought to 'recruit' Chinese consumers as ‘the next explorer’. In the run up to the commercial’s launch, recruitment ads for ‘the worst job’ appeared in local newspapers such as News Weekly and Metro Express. A campaign site described the details of ‘the worst job’, which was in fact what the brand considers one of the best 'jobs' in the world—being an explorer.

In conjunction with this the brand held outdoor events in Beijing, Shenyang and Harbin to announce 'the next explorers’ in September and October. Next, the campaign is being extended beyond China to the Hong Kong and Taiwan markets.

Headquartered in Alameda, California, the company sells its products through specialty mountaineering, backpacking, running and snowsport retailers, premium-sporting goods retailers and major outdoor specialty retail chains in China. The company faces a challenge from 'unauthorised' retailers in the online space (see the official site, versus this, this, and this).


Agency: Factory Design Labs Shanghai
Managing Director : Sook Ping Chow
Creative Director : Kelvin Leong
Art Director: Keith Wang
Copywriter: Maizy Ruan 
Planning Director : Jolin Guan
Account Director : Darrell Chang
Account Manager : Cindy Shen
Exposure: TV, digital, print, event


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