L.L.Bean flexes durability in consumer-led campaign

    • Outdoor retailer L.L.Bean’s back-to-school campaign celebrates the 40-year anniversary of its popular Book Pack bag and is inspired by an archived letter written to the company in 2007, according to details shared with Marketing Dive.
    • The campaign, “Dear L.L.Bean,” features an ad spot recreating the letter written by a now 23-year-old consumer, who wrote inquiring about how to wear out her Book Pack so her parents would buy her a replacement.
    • The 30-second commercial is joined with the social media hashtag, #dearllbean, and a shoppable microsite where customers can read multiple stories proving the durability of the bag, a nod to the growing emphasis on value this back-to-school shopping season.

    As marketers look to appeal to consumers in a back-to-school season that continues to grow tense from inflationary pressures, L.L.Bean has gone down the path of longevity as a means to communicate its value.

    The campaign, “Dear L.L.Bean,” showcases a 30-second national ad spot that uses an archived letter as its script. In the commercial, a child is seen searching for ways to destroy her Book Pack — like pushing it down the stairs, stomping on it and throwing it out the window — while the original letter is read in a voiceover. No matter what the child attempts, the bag seemingly cannot be destroyed.

    L.L.Bean also located the writer, who is now 23 years old but was eight years old at the time of the letter, to recall the event, representing the evergreen trend of utilizing real people and stories in marketing materials to form the human connection consumers crave. The campaign will see a social media activation with the hashtag #dearllbean, encouraging others to share similar stories on social media, as well as a microsite full of similar stories about the Book Pack’s durability with a call-to-action to purchase the bag.

    Value as a back-to-school theme is rising in importance as economic woes persist and shopping trip costs are expected to reach unsettling highs. Popular retailers like Walmart, Target and Amazon are reaching consumers by flexing extended discounts and competitive deals, going as far to use humor as a way to destigmatize the concept of spending less on back-to-school shopping. In a similar approach to L.L.Bean, Gap recently launched its fall campaign that rides off “hand-me-down” quality products and the importance of comfort.

    Such a playful campaign isn’t out-of-pocket for L.L.Bean, having adopted a “go big” mindset in the past. To celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2012, it deployed a 13-foot tall “bootmobile,” which still tours today, to inspire joy in the outdoors and promote its iconic duck boot. In 2019, it partnered with Uber for the “S’more Out of Summer” campaign that offered free Uber rides to campsite pop-ups to encourage people to go outside.


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