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New Patagonia ad campaign touts the 'weed wetsuit'

Is Patagonia becoming 'Potagonia' with weed giveaway offer? No, just trying to stoke biorubber business

Patagonia appears to be riding the high tide of pro-pot sentiment with a soon-to-launch print ad that proclaims: "We have the best weed in town (and we're giving it away)."

The ad, scheduled to appear in fall issues of select (but so far unspecified) publications, touts the next iteration of the Ventura-based outdoor apparel company's Yulex wetsuit, which is made using a blend of neoprene and a plant-based biorubber called guayule.

Pronounced why-YOU-lee, guayule is, according to Merriam-Webster, "a much-branched composite shrub (Parthenium argentatum) of Mexico and the southwestern United States that has been cultivated as a source of rubber." According to the Yulex website, it's the only species besides the Brazilian rubber tree that's been used for commercial-scale rubber production.

While there's no indication that this "weed" has any mind-altering properties, the allusion to the other headline-grabbing weed is certainly an attention grabber and a connection neither company minds baking — er, making. (If you look at the bottom right of the ad under the Yulex logo the slogan reads: "Martha Washington would be proud.") 

In announcing the catchy campaign today, the company noted that "[t]he most environmentally harmful aspect of a wetsuit is neoprene, a synthetic, petroleum-derived material with a highly toxic manufacturing process. Patagonia's search for alternatives led to a partnership with Yulex, a company making plant-based biorubbers derived from the guayule plant. Patagonia is now makings its Yulex wetsuit in a 60/40 blend (60% guayule, 40% neoprene), reducing dependence on conventional neoprene."

The company's ultimate goal, according to the announcement, is a 100% guayule suit which will kick neoprene to the curb for good. To that end Patagonia has decided to make the biorubber available to the rest of the surf industry (the "giving it away" part of the ad tagline).

Patagonia's reasoning: "[W]hen volume goes up, price goes down, and more surfers can choose to purchase less harmful suits. It’s good, smart business."

The company's current two styles of Yulex wetsuit retail online through its e-commerce site for $529 and $549.

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