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rickb
10-09-2016, 07:55
The ATC has been licensing its name to companies like Darn Tough Socks and Woolrich Blankets for a few years now, as well as to manufacturers of belts and bags like The Moonshine Company that add the ATC logo to thier products for the users to proudly display.

It was recently announced to wide applause that the ATC has liscenced its name to a Wine company.

That seems fundamentally different somehow.

At least they didn't strike an deal with Red Bull for a special edition can.

Perhaps that's next.

Tuckahoe
10-09-2016, 08:15
Meh... just cannot seem to find an issue here.

rickb
10-09-2016, 08:17
Meh... just cannot seem to find an issue here.

i expect you are in the vast majority.

saltysack
10-09-2016, 09:03
If it brings in money and support for the AT....I see no issue.....


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tour-kid
10-09-2016, 09:07
There's nothing I enjoy more after a long strenuous day of hiking than sitting down with a bottle of red wine!
no thanks

it should be beer

colorado_rob
10-09-2016, 09:50
Meh... just cannot seem to find an issue here.

disagree, see below....


There's nothing I enjoy more after a long strenuous day of hiking than sitting down with a bottle of red wine!
no thanks

it should be beer Yep! Highly disturbing that the ATC would use wine and not beer!

Uncle Joe
10-09-2016, 09:57
disagree, see below....

Yep! Highly disturbing that the ATC would use wine and not beer!


True but aren't beer names getting long enough?

"ATC Appalachian Trail Hiker Trash Epic Blister Packed Shelter Heavy Pack Imperial Stout!"

Sarcasm the elf
10-09-2016, 10:10
The ATC has been licensing its name to companies like Darn Tough Socks and Woolrich Blankets for a few years now, as well as to manufacturers of belts and bags like The Moonshine Company that add the ATC logo to thier products for the users to proudly display.

It was recently announced to wide applause that the ATC has liscenced its name to a Wine company.

That seems fundamentally different somehow.

At least they didn't strike an deal with Red Bull for a special edition can.

Perhaps that's next.


That wine had better have the option of coming in .5L and 1L mylar bags.

Emerson Bigills
10-09-2016, 10:12
While deep down many of us would prefer the trail and all things natural to remain pure and unconnected to corporate money, the reality is that it takes money to maintain the trails and do the good work of the ATC. It is a good thing that companies are willing to give to groups like the ATC, they just often want some public recognition for their good deeds. Not a perfect situation, but one that likely won't be reversing any time soon.

colorado_rob
10-09-2016, 10:28
True but aren't beer names getting long enough?

"ATC Appalachian Trail Hiker Trash Epic Blister Packed Shelter Heavy Pack Imperial Stout!"I love stout, I'd buy this stuff any day! Would have to be a large bottle for that label, no downside to that!

dudeijuststarted
10-09-2016, 10:40
This does seem a little fishy. When i start seeing dirt, rocks, and squirrels sourced from China, that will be the final straw.

evyck da fleet
10-09-2016, 12:12
I'm waiting for the CO or WA dispensary to sponsor the Trail. Although maybe the PCT or CDT would be more appropriate trails.

pickNgrin
10-09-2016, 12:22
If this continues, one day it will be called the REI Appalachian Trail.

Water Rat
10-09-2016, 12:30
That wine had better have the option of coming in .5L and 1L mylar bags.

The 1L mylar bag could double as "free UL pillow with purchase!"

Venchka
10-09-2016, 13:24
Does the wine come in a trail friendly 1 liter box?
Wayne


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Venchka
10-09-2016, 13:25
The Elf beat me to it.
Wayne


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burger
10-09-2016, 13:27
The only question that matters is: is there any evidence that ATC has sold out to these corporate interests or changed their policies in some ways that makes the trail worse off to appease their sponsors? If so, then, yeah, these branding agreements are a big problem. If not, then I fail to see the problem.

AfterParty
10-09-2016, 14:28
At least they didn't strike an deal with Red Bull for a special edition can.

Perhaps that's next.

That would make a pretty sweet wind screen for my new fancyfeast

Sarcasm the elf
10-09-2016, 14:45
The only question that matters is: is there any evidence that ATC has sold out to these corporate interests or changed their policies in some ways that makes the trail worse off to appease their sponsors? If so, then, yeah, these branding agreements are a big problem. If not, then I fail to see the problem.

+1 Well said.

rickb
10-09-2016, 16:21
The only question that matters is: is there any evidence that ATC has sold out to these corporate interests or changed their policies in some ways that makes the trail worse off to appease their sponsors? If so, then, yeah, these branding agreements are a big problem. If not, then I fail to see the problem.

To my way of thinking, partnering with a local/regional winery with no obvious ties to the AT or hiking for a 5% fee is a short-sighted marketing/revenue generating strategy at best.

This is not partnering with LL Bean.

If the ATC really wanted to go in that direction, they should do so with vision.

Getting a "sale" is not always something to be celebrated if it does not serve an organization's long term interest. This one just seems odd-- iin ways that go beyond the ATC liscencing their logo to a second sock company after they signed up Darn Tough.

If the ATC's leadership all think putting its logo and reputation on a bottle of wine is a good move, they have wandered off trail, IMHO.

PennyPincher
10-09-2016, 16:36
There's nothing I enjoy more after a long strenuous day of hiking than sitting down with a bottle of red wine!
no thanks

it should be beer

I'll take the wine! (grain free living here!)

rocketsocks
10-09-2016, 17:31
I'll take the wine! (grain free living here!)room temp beer is horrible, room temp red wine...not so much.

Lyle
10-09-2016, 17:42
Sounds like a perfect way to contain alcohol abuse on the trail, in the trail towns, and on Katahdin. But the ATC ENDORSES it, officer!

peakbagger
10-09-2016, 17:46
The reality is costs are going up and revenues are going down for ATC. Even though the AT is unit of the NPS, they don't supply any day to day revenue to maintain the trail. Unlike map sales which are revenue, the recent shift to privately sourced hiking aps puts no revenue in ATCs (or the maintaining clubs) pockets.

If someone else has a great idea for ways of funding the trail I expect ATC is willing to listen.

rickb
10-09-2016, 18:05
The reality is costs are going up and revenues are going down for ATC. Even though the AT is unit of the NPS, they don't supply any day to day revenue to maintain the trail. Unlike map sales which are revenue, the recent shift to privately sourced hiking aps puts no revenue in ATCs (or the maintaining clubs) pockets.

If someone else has a great idea for ways of funding the trail I expect ATC is willing to listen.


Good point, but keep in mind that the ATC is not the small-time operation they were only a few short years ago. In round numbers I think it's he ATC has annual revenues of over $7 million dollars, and a payroll of more an $3.5 million.

peakbagger
10-10-2016, 07:00
So where are the revenues coming from? The reason the ATC went from a small time operation to a larger operation a few short years ago was that the prior operation was unsustainable. Many folks find sponsorships distasteful but they find user fees even more distasteful. Sure its can get to the point where the tail is wagging the dog and the organization becomes a puppet of the sponsors, AKA The American Hiking Society and National Trails Day for a few years, but ATCs sponsorships to date seem to have been managed well.

Engine
10-10-2016, 10:30
Trail journal from 2029 - "It was an amazing hike today, we crossed over Verizon peak and stood under the gigantic cell tower, enjoying the views. Then we descended into Coca-Cola gap where we got some trail magic from the vending machines. After that, it was an arduous climb up and over Advanced Hair Replacement Bald, which is really getting overgrown..."

rickb
10-10-2016, 11:42
So where are the revenues coming from? The reason the ATC went from a small time operation to a larger operation a few short years ago was that the prior operation was unsustainable. Many folks find sponsorships distasteful but they find user fees even more distasteful. Sure its can get to the point where the tail is wagging the dog and the organization becomes a puppet of the sponsors, AKA The American Hiking Society and National Trails Day for a few years, but ATCs sponsorships to date seem to have been managed well.

Not sure exactly what you mean by sponsorships.

I know Google and a big-time law firm (among many others) make generous contributions to the ATC, and are publicly recognized by the Conservancy for thier support -- as they should be.

My comments in this thread are limited to licensing agreements, and the wisdom of the entering into one with a local/regional wine company.

-Rush-
10-10-2016, 12:40
If this continues, one day it will be called the REI Appalachian Trail.

That would be a sad day for sure. Just imagine REI hostels at every gap and ridge runners handing out sales flyers at the shelters.

pickNgrin
10-10-2016, 13:04
[…] it was an arduous climb up and over Advanced Hair Replacement Bald, which is really getting overgrown..."

Hahaha! Now that would almost make it worth it!

Offshore
10-10-2016, 13:44
To my way of thinking, partnering with a local/regional winery with no obvious ties to the AT or hiking for a 5% fee is a short-sighted marketing/revenue generating strategy at best.

This is not partnering with LL Bean.

If the ATC really wanted to go in that direction, they should do so with vision.

Getting a "sale" is not always something to be celebrated if it does not serve an organization's long term interest. This one just seems odd-- iin ways that go beyond the ATC liscencing their logo to a second sock company after they signed up Darn Tough.

If the ATC's leadership all think putting its logo and reputation on a bottle of wine is a good move, they have wandered off trail, IMHO.

+1 on this. Someone earlier in the thread joked about the "REI Appalachian Trail". I actually find that more acceptable than an ATC licensing agreement with a wine company - an industry which has no meaningful relationship to the AT or hiking. Personally, I'll see how it goes but my initial reaction is that with their new monetization strategies, they no longer need my membership dues so I may just save my money come renewal time.

Dogwood
10-10-2016, 15:12
That would be a sad day for sure. Just imagine REI hostels at every gap and ridge runners handing out sales flyers at the shelters.

Or on your GSMNP AT thru-hiker permit that has bee expanded to a brochure size affair you must be exposed to 'Taste the Feeling' - Coca Cola - available now at Neels Gap and Fontana village or 'Unleash the Beast...the AT Beast Inside of You' - Monster Energy Drinks.

lyagooshka
10-10-2016, 15:13
+1 on this. Someone earlier in the thread joked about the "REI Appalachian Trail". I actually find that more acceptable than an ATC licensing agreement with a wine company - an industry which has no meaningful relationship to the AT or hiking. Personally, I'll see how it goes but my initial reaction is that with their new monetization strategies, they no longer need my membership dues so I may just save my money come renewal time.

While I get what you're saying, following that logic, does beer have anything to do with football? I think that's just the point of advertising. Whatever wine company this is is trying to attract the folks that like to get out there and hike. And the ATC makes a little from it. I don't think the product necessarily needs to be related to the activity. It can just be geared towards the participants. Just like I'm sure some folks will grab a "Long Trail IPA" over some other brand just based on name. IMHO.

Dogwood
10-10-2016, 15:16
The day I see a sign saying 'Join the Pepsi Generation' upon hiking to the N. Rim at Grand Canyon is the day I may no longer hike at the Grand Canyon.

Dogwood
10-10-2016, 15:23
Corporatocracy is coming to a National Forest near you. Don't think the the National Parks are safe either. This is going to mostly quietly happen no matter who's party is in the Whitehouse.

Offshore
10-10-2016, 15:36
While I get what you're saying, following that logic, does beer have anything to do with football? I think that's just the point of advertising. Whatever wine company this is is trying to attract the folks that like to get out there and hike. And the ATC makes a little from it. I don't think the product necessarily needs to be related to the activity. It can just be geared towards the participants. Just like I'm sure some folks will grab a "Long Trail IPA" over some other brand just based on name. IMHO.

The difference to me is that is nothing more than the commercialization of the non-profit ATC by licensing the ATC "brand" for a range of non- or tangentially-related commercial products. Its basically sell the logo to the highest bidder - and that dilutes the ATC brand. (And from the viewpoint of having started and run non-profits, its something I'd never do for fear of alienating donors.) ATC gets a lot of support from commercial entities, but the cross marketing licensing is a bit much. Its kind of like when PBS started showing the 15 - 30 second de facto commercial messages at the beginning of the program instead of just listing the foundations that donated to support programming. My gut reaction is that its tawdry and makes me less likely to continue a membership. Just my initial impressions, YMMV.

lyagooshka
10-10-2016, 15:58
A valid point.

Alligator
10-10-2016, 21:44
They should slap that logo on a bottle of champagne. That'll generate a ton of revenue for multiple parties.

rocketsocks
10-10-2016, 23:02
No surprise...bobble heads were just the beginning.

rafe
10-10-2016, 23:29
Anyone here read David Foster Wallace's "Infinte Jest"? Year numbers are replaced with product promos. "The Year of The Depend Adult Undergarment" is just one that I recall.

Everything gets commercialized in America. That's the way we roll.

Offshore
10-11-2016, 08:08
They should slap that logo on a bottle of champagne. That'll generate a ton of revenue for multiple parties.

And sell them atop Katahdin along with BSP flutes!

Elaikases
10-11-2016, 08:37
i expect you are in the vast majority.

Indeed. I can't see it harming anything or really mattering at all.

Would anyone use the logo for a buying decision when hiking?

Starchild
10-11-2016, 09:04
What happened to my post on this??? I was pretty sure I saw it posted, was it deleted?

I do not think it is a good idea. It puts ATC in the realm and thoughts of a commercial agency selling and even endorsing products. On a limited basis, such as hiking socks, it does seem like 'a portion of this sale goes to help this cause' type of thing, and selling patches and pins. But outside the product line of items directly related to hiking and the trail it starts to look a bit more like a commercial entity.

This is potentially problematic with volunteering and volunteer based hiking clubs who do maintain the AT. As ATC is seen to be more like a commercial entity, the incentive to volunteer, for no pay, decreases and builds resentment. People wanted to be treated fairly for their work, if it si done for a money making entity they should rightfully get paid, that is not an agency to volunteer for. Some people who have the heart to help will find other trail projects to work on.

Add to that that some people will disagree with the use of alcohol related to the trail and see this as a ATC endorsement of drinking. That may be a turn off.

It also seems to go against a founding statement of the AT A footpath for those who seek fellowship with the wilderness. and the ATC seems to have moved away from that mission statement and has adopted one that is more inline with the AT of today by adding "and priceless cultural heritage", which indicates a vastly different trail, and a different direction then the original mission.

(sorry for the font size, copy and paste didn't work as intended)

QHShowoman
10-11-2016, 10:57
Having a local winery (it's right down the road from Harpers Ferry) create an "Appalachian Train" wine, with some of the proceeds going to the ATC does not constitute a "partnership" (which assumes that the company has some sort of say in how the organization conducts their business).

This is what's called "cause-related marketing" and it has become increasingly more and more common with non-profits as a means to generate additional revenue with no cost to the organization (like all of the "pink" stuff you see that benefits breast cancer orgs).
The non-profits usually do not seek out these sorts of things, rather they're approached by the company and the organization usually has some say as to whether they want to be a beneficiary or not. Sometimes, they're not asked at all, which can be problematic if the product being marketed is at odds with the organization.

It's becoming more and more difficult to raise money for non-profits through traditional means, so if an organization has savvy fundraisers with strong community outreach that allows them to take advantage of such opportunities to get free marketing for their organization and generate revenue at no cost to the organization, all the better.

soilman
10-11-2016, 12:18
There are a number of products in the market place that carry the name "Appalachian Trail" and the ATC doesn't get a dime. I remember back years ago when the ATC publication changed from AT News to Journeys and they began accepting advertisements. This was controversial. Let's face it, it costs money to maintain and protect the trail.

Offshore
10-12-2016, 11:42
Having a local winery (it's right down the road from Harpers Ferry) create an "Appalachian Train" wine, with some of the proceeds going to the ATC does not constitute a "partnership" (which assumes that the company has some sort of say in how the organization conducts their business).

This is what's called "cause-related marketing" and it has become increasingly more and more common with non-profits as a means to generate additional revenue with no cost to the organization (like all of the "pink" stuff you see that benefits breast cancer orgs).
The non-profits usually do not seek out these sorts of things, rather they're approached by the company and the organization usually has some say as to whether they want to be a beneficiary or not. Sometimes, they're not asked at all, which can be problematic if the product being marketed is at odds with the organization.

It's becoming more and more difficult to raise money for non-profits through traditional means, so if an organization has savvy fundraisers with strong community outreach that allows them to take advantage of such opportunities to get free marketing for their organization and generate revenue at no cost to the organization, all the better.

Even though the non-profits are approached, it doesn't mean that they have to or should accept the co-branding. The proliferation of pink ribbons his time of year is a good example of co-branding gone awry. For one thing, the ubiquity makes its really nothing more than background noise and gives the appearance of an empty gesture. More than that, it can go wrong, too. I recall the pink ribbon logo appearing on buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken a few years ago. Ironic that an organization supposedly interested in women's health chose KFC as a partner and allowed their ribbon to be placed on millions of big buckets of fried food - given that heart disease kills more women than cancers. Done judiciously, it can work well for all parties, but in this case, it just looked hypocritical. Hopefully the ATC doesn't go down that road.

Lyle
10-12-2016, 13:39
Most trail organizations would LOVE to have a quarter of the AT's budget. The ATC has expanded the scope of their activities well beyond building and maintaining a footpath. They have bought in to the corporate mantra that constant and never-ending growth is necessary. Since the trail is, for the most part, already built, they find any number of new places to spend their money, many in the name of needing MORE money, and enabling that goal.

If activities and ambitions were limited to maintaining the trail, licensing the name would not be necessary.

QHShowoman
10-12-2016, 13:51
Most trail organizations would LOVE to have a quarter of the AT's budget. The ATC has expanded the scope of their activities well beyond building and maintaining a footpath. They have bought in to the corporate mantra that constant and never-ending growth is necessary. Since the trail is, for the most part, already built, they find any number of new places to spend their money, many in the name of needing MORE money, and enabling that goal.

If activities and ambitions were limited to maintaining the trail, licensing the name would not be necessary.


Can you be more specific? Which activities are they pursuing that are beyond their scope?

Lyle
10-12-2016, 14:33
Just a few, off the top of my head, since I no longer follow the ATC activities very closely:

Building ever more elaborate trail hotels (colloquially called shelters)
Declaring and promoting "Trail Towns"
Teacher education courses and sponsoring various AT in the Classroom events

lyagooshka
10-12-2016, 18:10
Can you be more specific? Which activities are they pursuing that are beyond their scope?

I don't think I would be offended about the ATC getting a few bucks (and some name recognition) from things like wine or beer or trail towns.
Where I would REALLY be upset is if I saw them getting into political issues.
I don't care if it's "my" candidate or not, or if they're on "my" side of the issue.
Stay away from politics, unless it directly affects the trail.
IMHO.

AfterParty
10-12-2016, 18:14
Why is promoting education beyond the ATC scope?

Lyle
10-12-2016, 18:51
Why is promoting education beyond the ATC scope?

This will be my last reply to this thread. I see no point in arguing, it is my feeling, and the reason I have not renewed my membership for several years now.

It is not just promoting, they are spending money creating curriculum, running workshops for teachers, I assume providing staff time for presentations, etc. It is watering down the funds that should be going toward maintaining the trail, so they need to ever increase the amount of money they collect. That was the entire point in changing the name of the organization - to facilitate fundraising. I just see them as becoming way too interested in maintaining the bureaucracy, and less and less concerned with maintaining the trail - getting a lot of employees and numerous offices (visitor centers). My opinion is that the money could be much better spent, and they would need much less of it if they did less non-maintenance projects.

QHShowoman
10-12-2016, 19:25
I don't think I would be offended about the ATC getting a few bucks (and some name recognition) from things like wine or beer or trail towns.
Where I would REALLY be upset is if I saw them getting into political issues.
I don't care if it's "my" candidate or not, or if they're on "my" side of the issue.
Stay away from politics, unless it directly affects the trail.
IMHO.


Legally, the ATC can't promote political issues as a 501c3 organization. They may be able to do a limited amount of lobbying - i.e. asking legislators to vote one way or another on issues that directly impact the trail - but that's a different thing than promoting a candidate for election.

QHShowoman
10-12-2016, 19:37
This will be my last reply to this thread. I see no point in arguing, it is my feeling, and the reason I have not renewed my membership for several years now.

It is not just promoting, they are spending money creating curriculum, running workshops for teachers, I assume providing staff time for presentations, etc. It is watering down the funds that should be going toward maintaining the trail, so they need to ever increase the amount of money they collect. That was the entire point in changing the name of the organization - to facilitate fundraising. I just see them as becoming way too interested in maintaining the bureaucracy, and less and less concerned with maintaining the trail - getting a lot of employees and numerous offices (visitor centers). My opinion is that the money could be much better spent, and they would need much less of it if they did less non-maintenance projects.

I think this is a pretty short-sighted perspective and there's probably more to those things than you realized -- like, the education programs may be fulfilling a component of a grant they received. Often times, when you apply for grants, there are certain stipulations you have to fulfill. Perhaps a funder offered $500,000 for trail maintenance, but stipulated that the grantee must include a curriculum program to bring awareness about the trail to K-12 students? Or perhaps it's to fulfill a joint allocation requirement -- which helps organizations to offset fundraising costs by using part of the funds they raise for educational activities?

The ATC is responsible for maintaining almost 2,200 miles of trail...with the aid of a single F/T NPS Ranger. It's foolish to think that much trail could be maintained and preserved with a single office and minimal employees. You can't run an organization of that breadth solely on volunteer power and in order to hire paid employees, you need to be able to pay them...thus the need for fundraising. And compared to other organizations of comparable size, the ATC does a good job keeping their fundraising costs at a minimum.

Sometimes, you just need to separate your "feelings" from the facts...

rickb
10-12-2016, 20:38
The ATC is responsible for maintaining almost 2,200 miles of trail...with the aid of a single F/T NPS Ranger. It's foolish to think that much trail could be maintained and preserved with a single office and minimal employees. You can't run an organization of that breadth solely on volunteer power and in order to hire paid employees, you need to be able to pay them...thus the need for fundraising. And compared to other organizations of comparable size, the ATC does a good job keeping their fundraising costs at a minimum.

Sometimes, you just need to separate your "feelings" from the facts...

It is fair to observe that the ATC's payroll has more than doubled in the past decade -- to about $70,000 per week, as has the salary paid to its executive director.

That may be a reflection of great things -- in that the ATC has marshaled more resources and more professional leadership to bear to help preserve the trail-- but considering the cluster **** surrounding the over crowded campsites and overflowing latrines at the beginning of thru hiker season, such "feelings" are understandable, I think.