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Steve Lesnard CMO of The North Face Push to Diversify The Outdoors

COVID-19, social and racial injustice, and a tumultuous political environment have captured much of the attention this year. Steve Lesnard, CMO of The North Face, has a lofty goal to move past this and help people explore the outdoors. His plan? Diversify the outdoors.

The campaign, called Reset Normal, is being launched with a $7 million bankroll from the North Face. The Explore Fund Council was established to bring together experts across culture, academia, entertainment, and the outdoors to come up with ideas to target minority groups to get outdoors.

The initiative has drafted two high-profile partners. Lena Waithe, an Emmy Award-winning writer, producer, and actor, and Jimmy Chin, an Academy-Award winning Director and the North Face global athlete. Both were chosen by Steve Lesnard and the team at The North Face because they bring unique perspectives acquired from resetting their own industries.

The Nature Gap

Nature is supposed to be available to everyone. It should be free and accessible to anyone without discrimination. Yet research shows that people of color are less likely to live in places that have access to nature. People of color are three times more likely to live in communities that are deprived of green spaces. This situation’s also magnified by environmental injustices, including water pollution and toxic air near communities of color.

When people of color do explore, they often report racism and systemic challenges.

One of the Reset Normal campaign’s first goals is to create and promote exploration opportunities to communities that have less access and increase the diversity of those doing the exploration. “I want to give people access and amplify those that do occupy the space,” Waithe told The Cut. “We want to make sure they don’t feel invisible. We also want others to join them, but first, they must feel welcome.

The Explore Fund will seek to establish culturally relevant events and connect diverse communities to the benefits of exploration.

Waithe narrated the video launch that was directed by Sid Lee to demonstrate how exploration can help people reset amid today’s cultural backdrop. It features a song from Aloe Blacc that was composed as the Black Live Matter movement emerged this summer.

Creating the Change

For Steve Lesnard, it’s not just another brand marketing campaign. It’s about creating real change.  “2020 has proven we need to radically accelerate that work and collaborate with a broad-reaching community to help us do so.” – Steve Lesnard, CMO, The North Face

The Pledge to Reset includes a digital campaign on the North Face website with this theme:

Reset Normal. Rest thinking. Reset perspectives. Reset actions.

To create broad awareness and brand marketing, Steve Lesnard, CMO of the North Face, also launched an initiative to challenge its team of athletes and friends to reset. The campaign will also include TikTok filters and Instagram AR lenses to encourage people to participate and spread the message of inclusivity.

Steve Lesnard and the team at the North Face are also planning to address the need for equity and opportunity in the outdoor industry. This effort will include new mentorship opportunities to create additional interest in the outdoors from groups that may not have access to equipment or outdoor experts to fuel their exploration. “The only real way to see change happen is by helping to create it yourself,” said Waithe.

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