Find Your Own Trail

REI is an interesting company. They’ve achieved ubiquity and success by any metric. But as a supplier of nice outdoor gear, they’ve managed to maintain a connection to their roots. REI is still about nature, connecting with a deeper sense of self by experiencing life in faraway, distant, and remote places. REI may provide the gear you need to survive, thrive, or be comfortable in such settings. But ultimately, the company exists to facilitate that experience, not to sell tents and trail gear.

They maintain that branding reputation in a number of ways. Recently they paid their employees to go out into nature on Black Friday, and they close on Thanksgivings. But they’ve also been doing it in their video marketing, in a series of profile pieces about interesting real life individuals who have a special connection to nature. This time Ponytail Paul is the subject of their thoughtful and emotional piece of marketing.

Ponytail Paul is a fixture on the Appalachian Trail, if such a thing is possible for a path so long and vast. Paul specializes on the trail regions around his home in Maine. Some of the most remote and challenging on the whole trail, all travelers will be experiencing exhaustion and worry at this point of the journey, the more the longer they’ve been going. As a self-professed “trail angel” Paul counteracts this by putting buckets of food in the trees for passing travelers to find. This enables them to eat without carrying more weight in a heavy pack. It’s an act that helps many, and has helped facilitate healing in Paul himself, recovering from early life trauma and getting his life back on the right trail. He’s an inspiration to many and the epitome of the kind of physical/spiritual life that REI wants to advocate and the reason they have the business model that they do.


Related post:  6 Amazing Ski Slopes in the Alps

Images credit (under CCL) by order:  EM’Força – Corremos com a EM

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