Tested Tough: Columbia’s Authentic Ad Campaign

No matter the platform, we as marketers are charged with telling our brand’s story and telling it in such a way that will connect with the audience. That is why the most successful campaigns are emotional and inspirational and not focused on the transaction.

According to Chief Marketing Officer of outdoor brand Columbia Sportswear, Stuart Redsun, the company had “moved away from brand storytelling”. As such, Columbia is launching its largest global ad campaign, titled “Tested Tough”.

The campaign aims to show that the technology put into Columbia products is tested and proven in extreme conditions by those who build the product where they live, Portland, Ore., and the Pacific Northwest.

Columbia Tested Tough BusinessWire

I love this campaign because it does exactly what Columbia seeks and it does so in an authentic way. Columbia produces high-quality outdoor product and this campaign shows how it benefits consumers while being true to what the brand is.

I think the best part of this campaign is how Columbia is bringing it to life across multiple channels.

The campaign will feature traditional TV and print ads that incorporate a bit of humor, along with billboards, wallscapes and transit stations. On digital, it will use targeted ads triggered by weather.

On social, Columbia has changed its Twitter name to #TestedTough and leads its Instagram bio with “#TestedTough since 1938”. It has also built a social hub for consumers to share their own Tested Tough moments. On Instagram, Columbia is re-sharing consumers’ shots and is having social influencers take over the account for a weekend.

Columbia IG 1

Columbia IG 2

The great part about this UGC is that the outdoor, nature shots are all incredible images that standout on Instagram while still being true to what the company is.

Taking user generated content to a new level, Columbia is launching its own “Employee Generated Content” videos on YouTube, again showing the authenticity of the campaign.


To cap it all off, Columbia is hiring two Directors of Toughness who will embark on a six-month journey around the world to test Columbia’s full range of products and showing how it keeps users comfortable and protected.

As I started reading about this campaign, one note popped out at me; Redsun, the Chief Marketing Officer mentioned above, joined Columbia after being the SVP, Global Brand Marketing at Under Armour. This type of inspiring content is exactly what has helped NIKE and Under Armour build successful global brands, and I can’t wait to see how Tested Tough plays out for Columbia.

Thoughts on this campaign? Does it stay true to Columbia and will it be impactful? Let me know in the comments or follow me on Twitter (@mditt).

Read about the full campaign on Business Wire and Adweek.



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