Outdoor device maker Garmin’s extensive Women of Adventure campaign has been a mainstay of the company’s outdoor division for more than five years, and the company continues to evolve it.
Women of Adventure shares the stories of women who have overcome obstacles, accomplished impressive feats, and who live out their passions on land, sea and air.
We spoke with Garmin Associate Director of Outdoor Marketing Audra Ratliff about why the initiative started and how the company has expanded it over the years.
Garmin makes a diverse group of hand-held, wearable, portable, and fixed-mount GPS-enabled products and other devices for the outdoor, fitness, aviation, marine, and auto markets.
Why did Garmin initially create the Women of Adventure campaign?
Garmin Associate Director of Outdoor Marketing Audra Ratliff: As a brand we had come to the realization that while our outdoor recreation segment was growing, it was predominantly men who were buying our products.
When you combine that with stats you read about women being afraid to get outside because they don’t feel prepared for certain situations, we felt compelled to create something that made women feel and see they could get outside with the right tools and help from Garmin.
When you look at Garmin’s mission, it is about creating superior products in every category we serve and being an essential part of our customers’ lives. In order for us to be successful in our mission, I believe it is also our job to educate the market on why getting outdoors is important and how they can have a healthier, happier life because of it.
With Women of Adventure, we hoped to get in front of the female audience and show them you really can do anything if you put your mind to it, no matter how much background in the outdoors you have.
What are some key elements of the campaign?
Audra Ratliff: When starting this campaign, we needed to find women with an inspiring story who also had a use case for Garmin products. Those elements combined make for an emotional story which resonates well with an audience.
I absolutely applaud our team on how diverse they have been able to make this campaign with the different women we have chosen. It was important to everyone that the campaign resonated with as many women as possible and touched on a breadth of our product capabilities.
This campaign also added a cool additional element – our Women of Adventure children’s book. We know the best way to keep adult women outdoors is to inspire them when they are young, and the book is meant to entice girls with the same overarching messaging from our campaign.
The book is also educational and tied into a key element of Garmin – STEM initiatives. As a large engineering company, we want to inspire these girls to pursue career paths that could put them in a future spot to design our very own products.
How have you utilized the campaign over the years?
Audra Ratliff: Our creative team does an incredible job making unique stories for each woman we feature. We’ve been able to capture tons of video and photography elements over the years and you can find these stories on our website, through our social media channels, and through some of our different partnerships. We’ve also been able to use content in different retail and sales channels and had opportunities to attend events to get this campaign in front of women who are interested in getting outdoors more.
We have our main stories that make up the campaign, but we also have worked to execute social concepts with our ambassadors and athletes as well. One unique part of this initiative is that we have featured women who don’t just fit into Garmin’s traditional “Outdoor Recreation” segment – we’ve touched the marine, fitness, automotive, and aviation categories, too. If you think about it, “outdoor” is a very broad term – all our segments help people get out and explore different parts of the world.
Is the campaign designed to support certain products or the brand in general?
Audra Ratliff: Our No. 1 goal as a company has been and will always be to sell products. That being said, one cool part of this campaign is the team was able to put the story of the woman first. There always should be a product fit, but to truly be able to tell a good story and be emotional, this campaign was one instance where we focused on being more awareness driven.
If the campaign was purely about the products, we wouldn’t be able to drive home our goal with this project, which is to help inspire women to get outside.
Has Garmin ever created this extensive of a campaign solely focused on women?
Audra Ratliff: Over the past several years, we have made a conscious effort to ensure women are a focus point in campaigns across many different product lines at Garmin. The Women of Adventure campaign was the first campaign solely focused on women, but since then we have rolled out products such as our Lily smartwatch and features like women’s health tracking that were designed and marketed by women for women.
Those additional campaigns show our continued commitment to the female market.
How are you judging the overall success of the Women of Adventure initiative over time and how long will you keep it going?
Audra Ratliff: If we see an increase in women getting outdoors, I will consider this campaign successful. The COVID “boom” helped get more people boating, hiking, camping, running, etc. and increased the number of women getting outdoors, but we will continue to push this campaign to also remind women why they got outside in the first place.
We keep branching off this campaign producing new content and ideas, and as long as those creative juices keep flowing from the team, I see no reason to stop.
Being a woman myself and not having a lot of adventurous opportunities growing up, I’ve seen firsthand how and why women get to a certain point and become afraid of trying to get into outdoor recreation activities. That problem isn’t going away any time soon and we will continue to find ways to promote how fun and rewarding (outdoor recreation activities) can be.