Columbia Sportswear Is Making Job Candidates Literally Climb Mountains for Interviews

Seeking a 'director of toughness' to travel the world

There's been no dearth of dubious job titles in the recent years, thanks in large part to the tech boom. But outerwear marketer Columbia Sportswear is reaching for new and awesome heights with its tongue-in-cheek "director of toughness" role—and this time around, it's really making candidates work for the gig.

A new ad from agency North shows potential hires interviewing for the position, largely by taking a surprise, semi-coerced trek up to the top of a mountain, only to suffer the verbal abuse of an HR rep camped out 8,000 feet above sea level. Because if they really are qualified, such trivial exertion and feeble taunts shouldn't faze them at all.

It's a ridiculous and entertaining premise. One would-be employee touts his long distance relationship as evidence of his durability. "What's your biggest fear, other than commitment?" retorts Columbia's insult-comic hiring manager, in perhaps the ad's best zinger.

Set at Timberline Lodge and the Mt. Hood wilderness outside Portland, Ore., it's just the first of several such trips through the wringer for interviewees. Columbia will continue to put applicants through similar tests at other locations around the world, promising them, if they ultimately earn the job, nine months of globetrotting to test the brand's products in "some of the most brutal conditions mother nature can serve."

Actually, it's not Columbia's first time filling the role. A 2015 version of the job saw two directors of toughness travel the world for a mere six months, visiting places like Chile, Uganda and Ecuador. But the interview process for that job appears to have been significantly more mild.

The current nine-month version, meanwhile, will pay a salary of $39,000 and include benefits, reports CNBC. The ultimate hires will document their adventures and share them on social media, effectively helping the brand market its wares to outdoor enthusiasts.

And as silly as the title itself may be, it does build on the marketer's real brand equity. Last year, North also spearheaded the campaign that saw the return of Columbia chairwoman and nonagenarian Gert Boyle to its advertising, reviving her classic role as "One Tough Mother."

It's probably safe to say she'd approve of the hiring method. 


Project Name: Director of Toughness

Client: Columbia Sportswear

Chief Marketing Officer – Stu Redsun

Senior Manager of Advertising & Media – Natalie Hayes

Scott Trepanier Director of PR & Communications

Agency: North

Chief Creative Officer  – Mark Ray

Executive Creative Director/ Art Director  – Luke Perkins

Creative Director/ Copywriter – Aaron Robnett

Art Director – Kaleen Anderson

Executive Producer – Steve Rauner

Content Producer – Matt Genz

Print Producer – Peter Calandra

Strategic Director – Jordan Delapoer

Brand Director – Kelly Quinn, Alex Gatewood & Derek Muller

Editorial Producer  – Matt Genz

Editor  – Kelly Brickner Lyon

Production Company – Big Block

Director Josh + Vince

Executive Producer – Geno Imbriale

Line Producer – Justin Towery

Sound Design/Mix – Digital one

VFX – Pinata Post

@GabrielBeltrone Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.
Publish date: September 29, 2016 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT