While drinking with my Dad one evening, I told him my dream was to sell all of my possessions, use the money to convert a Sprinter Cargo Van into a “mobile home,” and road trip across the country.
His response was simply, “No father wants to hear his daughter say that. It’s the stuff of nightmares.” Point taken.
I love the idea of a nomadic lifestyle, but I need to maintain a steady paycheck. Which means, I must settle for writing about it on my ad agency’s Conscious Consumer blog:
Lifestyle brands champion the nomadic lifestyle
In 1993, Chris Farley portrayed a derelict character named Matt Foley who famously lived in a van “down by the river.” It quickly became a catch phrase commonly associated with the embodiment of failure. Fast forward 20 years and what was once was a questionable existence has become a desired lifestyle for people from all walks of life.
The hashtag #vanlife has been used in over 62,000 Instagram posts. Several lifestyle brands are capitalizing on the popularity of this ideal through partnerships with content creators who have amassed large social followings living the nomadic life of their dreams.
Subaru and Backpacker Magazine teamed up to celebrate the National Park Service Centennial. The brands launched a contest to find a videographer/writer team to travel throughout the park system for a year, document their daily experiences and promote a sustainability message. Aidan and Madison were chosen as much for their art direction as for their lifestyle – and the sizeable social following as a result of it. The two spent the previous year touring South America in a van and documenting their experience via Instagram under the name Vanajeros. Their bio line reads,“ Life in motion. A photographic exploration of an alternative to the American dream.”
Teva is another lifestyle brand championing the nomadic lifestyle of young creatives. Johnie Gall runs the popular outdoor blog Dirtbag Darling and is Teva’s Blog Editor. She currently lives and works out of a converted Sprinter Cargo Van with her husband and dog. Johnie’s adventures throughout the wild parts of this country are professionally propped and photographed. Her Instagram account depicts her hiking in Patagonia-sponsored clothing, gliding across a lake on a Jarvis-sponsored stand-up paddleboard, snacking on Justin’s-provided nut butters and showing off her hard-earned #Tevatan.
So what’s the connection between this nomadic lifestyle and like-minded brands? The simple answer is authenticity – or at least the appearance of it – along with the portrayal of freedom to control how and where one lives and works. Not being tied down to a single location, be it a living situation or a workplace, holds appeal for those who wish to let their wild hearts roam, yet need to hold down a job.
So how can less nomadic workplaces take advantage of this trend and offer employees a taste of this lifestyle? Ryan Woldt and Tim Stempel of One Wild Life (OWL) may have the answer. The pair recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund “The Adventure Lab,” a mobile office and touring vehicle for individuals and corporate teams who need a basecamp to get work done in-between the outdoor activity of their choosing.
“We started One Wild Life to enable people to enhance their professional lives by working in inspiring places and creating a healthy work-life balance. The Adventure Lab will be available for use on a regular basis as a mobile co-working space for independent creatives, designers, writers and freelancers looking for a more inspiring work environment and opportunities to connect with other similarly inspired individuals.”
The Adventure Lab will also be used to operate adventure tours and creative retreats for companies who wish to give their employees a break from the confines of the cubicle. Woldt and Stempel believe the lab will improve people’s lives by encouraging them to spend more time outdoors and hope the lab will be the literal vehicle in which they are able to achieve this goal.
This kind of placemaking puts a whole new spin on the notion of work/life balance and is a desired way of living and working for Conscious Consumers. The question for marketers whose brands want to tap into the growing nomadic trend is how do you engage without appearing disruptive or lacking authenticity?