Walls Are Meant for Climbing: The North Face & The Trust for Public Land
Aimed at making the sport of climbing more accessible and inclusive, The North Face launched the Walls Are Meant For Climbing campaign in 2017 to ask people to rethink the way they look at walls. For The North Face, walls aren’t meant to divide, they can unite.
In addition to inviting people to rethink the role walls can play in a community, the program aimed to reduce barriers to experiencing the sport of climbing. The North Face wanted to create free public spaces and opportunities to make climbing more accessible for underserved and disabled climbers, so people of all backgrounds could challenge themselves at the wall and participate in the climbing community.
The campaign had three main pillars: Global Climbing Day, building climbing walls in cities, and celebrating the climbing community. To activate on these pillars, The North Face partnered with The Trust for Public Land, Paradox Sports, and the Outside Lands music festival to achieve the goals of this campaign. The campaign strategy centered on experiential marketing to raise awareness for issues through consumer participation and charitable giving to these nonprofit partners.
Global Climbing Day: The North Face teamed up with Paradox Sports, the nation’s premier adaptive climbing organization, to sponsor the Adaptive Climbing Initiative, a first-of-its-kind program designed to train climbing gyms across the U.S. in adaptive techniques and provide the equipment necessary to enable people with physical disabilities to climb. To build on this partnership, The North Face partnered with more than 50 climbing gyms worldwide to make August 19, 2017 a Global Climbing Day to raise awareness about the power and inclusivity of the sport of climbing by offering free climbing opportunities. For each person who visited a participating climbing gym, The North Face donated $5, up to $50,000, to Paradox Sports to further the mission to make climbing accessible to all.
Building Climbing Walls in Cities: In addition, The North Face made a $1M donation to The Trust for Public Land (TPL) to help build free public climbing walls in more communities, with a focus on underserved areas, making the sport more accessible to all. To launch the partnership with TPL, The North Face constructed an 18-foot bouldering wall at Outside Lands, a music festival in San Francisco, to invite festival goers to challenge themselves at the wall. In addition to climbing, the activation featured a photo booth experience that provided climbers with a printed photo and a stop-motion GIF of them climbing the wall. For every person that climbed the wall, a $10 donation was made to The Trust for Public Land. Additionally, climbers could win limited edition Walls Are Meant For Climbing gear (T-shirts, hoodies, hats, pins and stickers). Over 1,200 participants climbed the wall over the festival weekend.
Over 15,000 people participated in Global Climbing Day; of them, roughly 40-50% were new to the gym and/or first-time climbers.
The Walls campaign gained widespread recognition and media coverage across the US for sparking conversations around inclusivity and accessibility around and beyond climbing walls.