Andy Anderson is a photographer living a life committed to the outdoors. He chronicles the wilderness and those who inhabit it as if it were all going to disappear. Andy has grown increasingly concerned with the state of advertising for the Hunting and Angling industry, and along with Creative Director and friend, Bill Roden, started a podcast called The Tailgate Podcast to discuss important issues related to conservation, marketing, and creative thinking.
We joined Andy and Bill on their virtual tailgate to ask about the project, how it came about, and what they envision for the future.
HER: To the distant observer of hunting and fishing, one might think those that hunt for sport are out to shoot, kill, and take away from the wild. In reality, it’s quite the opposite. Hunters and Fishermen are among the most involved conservationists, looking to preserve habitats and wildlife – even going so far as to establish a means to protect endangered species. The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, more popularly known as the Pittman-Robertson Act, is an excise tax that funds wildlife conservation. If you aren’t a hunter, you might not know that fact. Do hunting and angling brands do a good job of educating the public that they are conservationists? What can they do to change that?
Andy & Bill: Yes, brands do a good job of education. However, there is a great deal of disagreement on which conversation groups and causes brands should support. Mobilizing around issues like climate change, public lands, and clean water should bring people together yet spark divisiveness. We can solve this together by remaining open to different points of view and detonating entrenched and uninformed beliefs.
HER: Your podcast’s goal is to “inspire new ways our industry can band together to build a longer table, not a higher fence.” You’ve identified some outdoor brands that are doing interesting things with their marketing, helping the broader public to see what a responsible brand is doing. What are they doing that is different than Fishing and Angling brands?
Andy & Bill: Some outdoor brands are including a more diverse representation of their audiences in their marking to better reflect the way the world currently is and not the way they want it to be.
You can be aspirational without marginalizing new, diverse audiences. These emerging audiences wield immense spending power yet are relegated to the sidelines. Many feel the outdoor world is elitist and hunting brands are seeing a precipitous decline across the board. The outdoors can feel like a club many aren’t allowed to join. Recognizing the opportunity to reflect the current demographic make-up and zeitgeist of America is key to keeping the industry healthy.
“Hunters understand the effect of exploiting our natural resources.”Simon Roosevelt, conservationist, hunter, and great-great grandson of Theodore Roosevelt
HER: Hunting and Angling brands have a pretty long to-do list when it comes to marketing. Other than communicating their conservation efforts, what else should advertising prioritize?
Andy & Bill: Hunting and Angling brands should try to adopt more modern marketing processes, technological platforms, and brand experiences over the things they sell, including better insights that lead to more original storytelling.
“Advertising is a question of whether we are being sold something, or buying something.”Tom McGuane
HER: Talk to us about building a brand story. Both Simon Roosevelt and novelist, screenwriter, angler, Tom McGuane have touched on the fact that a brand’s values are just as important as the product they are selling. To tell a good story, Tom states that, “struggle is at the center of every great story.” The Hunting and Angling brands certainly have a struggle on their hands. Have any of them listened to your podcast and wanted to be guests as a result?
Andy & Bill: Yes. People have been enthusiastically raising their hands to be part of this podcast as a guest and support our mission. We’ve also been asked to appear on panels, podcasts, and have been featured in national outdoor magazines and blogs as well.
HER: What is the vision for this podcast for the future? Do you see this idea growing to other forms of media other than the podcast?
Andy & Bill: Our mission for the podcast is to have workshop retreats, an online video series and our own show that takes place at brands’ headquarters – to bring their story to life visually.
Listen to The Tailgate Podcast and follow Andy on Instagram to see work from a photographer committed to the outdoors.