Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Camping World and Eddie Bauer join forces. Two peas in a pod?

In a seeming larger-than-life promotion, Camping World and Eddie Bauer – well, largely Camping World – tout a new collaboration. You might wonder what Camping World has to do with a sportswear retailer, unless you buy an RV from Camping World and find the furnace doesn’t work. In that case, you probably could use a good down vest. We’ll tackle the “collaboration” part first, and then hit on how this whole marriage may just be showing similar symptoms of a “consumer relations” illness.

Heartland and Dutchmen in the mix

First off, no, Eddie Bauer is not building RVs. Of course, neither does Camping World (CW). But Camping World and Eddie Bauer have hit it off, with CW providing the retail space, and Eddie slipping in a rugged fashionista design. Throw in two of the (in CW’s words) “most respected, well-known RV-makers in the industry.” Heartland and Dutchmen RV are building a new line of fancy-schmancy rigs for CW, and Eddie Bauer has lent (hardly – somebody is no doubt paying dearly for) its brand name and logo to be used in these RVs.

Camping World and Eddie Bauer
The coveted frosted glass Eddie Bauer name plate. Camping World.

Here’s a paragraph from CW’s promotional rip: “Signature green cabinetry. White pressed countertops and champagne bronze hardware. Sharp exterior graphic designs alluding to mountain ranges. Designer furniture. The frosted glass Eddie Bauer nameplate above the kitchen. These RVs are distinctly Eddie Bauer.”

So, just what makes Eddie Bauer, “Eddie Bauer”? A “creative director” present at an advertising photo shoot says, “Seriously, these units don’t just blend in – they stand out in the best way possible. The light colors that grace their exteriors are like a nod to nature’s palette. You’ve got whites, soft hues, and earthy tones that make you feel right at home amidst the great outdoors.”

Little to behemoth, all have a nod to nature’s palette

Some of the Camping World Eddie Bauer line up. Camping World photo.

So if you want light colors gracing the interior of your next RV “nodding to nature’s palette,” maybe these are the rigs you need to look at. Camping World and Eddie Bauer are offering quite a lineup. From a 26’ travel trailer (OK, 23’ of living space) to a behemoth 40’ fifth-wheel, with other models in between, all of these new rigs from Dutchmen and Heartland bear those color schemes and, of course, the coveted Eddie Bauer insignia name plaque.

The promo puts heavy emphasis on Eddie Bauer, to the point it was enough to make some wonder if maybe Eddie Bauer had expanded out from winterwear into rolling stock. One of CW’s readers thought so. Cyndy Warnier fired back in Camping World’s comment section, “Since when does Eddie Bauer become an RV maker? It’s just a name which means nothing about quality. I don’t get it. Instead of a name, let’s do a better job of construction on RVs so people don’t have so many problems and breakdowns.”

Bling and looks, but what about build quality?

Cyndy hits the nail on the head. The emphasis of this Camping World and Eddie Bauer promo is so focused on bling and looks, it runs terrifically short on quality commentary. Perhaps CW assumes that the magic phrase “Eddie Bauer” will simply erase any concerns about the actual build quality. But there’s where the problems crop up.

Decades back, one of Eddie Bauer’s advertising taglines ran, “If you’ve got to trust someone, make it Eddie Bauer.” But Old Eddie sold out the company in 1968, and for a time, product reliability and service still lived on. If you bought something from the company, you really could expect it to hold up, possibly passing it along to your kids, even grandkids.

After Eddie, the rot set in

But like a lot of things from childhood, change doesn’t always mean “for the better.” What followed was an ever-shifting line of company owners, including General Mills, which didn’t hesitate to see the advantage of selling off the company name to others. Ford bought rights to it, and had a run of “Eddie Bauer Edition” vehicles.

Later, General Mills sold out to Spiegel, the catalog sales company. They opened store after store across the country, selling everything from clothing to furniture. More licensing deals were struck. You could buy Eddie Bauer eyeglasses, mountain bikes, even baby clothes. But in 2003, Spiegel filed for bankruptcy and shut down 200 Eddie Bauer stores. When it couldn’t get a good offer for the company, Spiegel stopped trying to sell the brand, and instead reorganized. New owners jumped in. Six years later, Eddie Bauer was in bankruptcy court again, and another new owner came to the front.

Eddie Bauer’s reputation?

This week’s rating from TrustPilot.com

So what’s Eddie Bauer’s current reputation? “In the good old days,” Eddie Bauer was a solid, dependable name, backed by solid, dependable customer service. Not so anymore. Type in “Eddie Bauer reviews” on your search engine, and you’ll find site after site showing the company is barely out of the “bargain basement” in customer reviews. Often those leaving reviews say they’ve been a happy customer for years, but after their recent experiences would buy no more. Customer service lousy, ordered merchandise never showing up, and an endless supply of poor quality products. One frustrated reviewer wrote of product quality, “Nothing differentiates them from the crap at Walmart.”

So, why would Camping World hype Eddie Bauer in this new wave of RVs? Perhaps Marcus Lemonis’ minions hope that the old Bauer reputation will last longer than reality. But as anyone who has been around the RV block knows, it doesn’t matter whether the faucets are chromed plastic or plated gold – if the underlying quality is lousy, it will still leak. The same is true here: It doesn’t matter what color the paint on the closet door is. If the guys on the assembly line built it lousy, then the whole thing will probably leak.

Camping World has obviously put a lot of time, effort, and cash into their latest public relations hype. You can visit it yourself, but be sure to bring along snacks and drinks. We struggled through just one video – the one touting an RV where the interior looks more like a park model than a recreational unit. The host on this video is your worst nightmare of a Camping World salesman on steroids. Thank goodness YouTube allows you to change the playback speed – 2x wasn’t enough!

Camping World and Eddie Bauer? If reputation has anything to do with it, it looks as if the two are like peas in a pod.


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.


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22 days ago

“Can we all just get along .” – Rodney King.

Ron Betzing
23 days ago

I disagree on Eddie Bauer quality. It is my goto brand for light weight breathable quick dry collared shirts.

Dana D
24 days ago

I don’t blame CW for the poor quality of RV’s. They didn’t make them. However, CW’s service is terrible. I had CW replace a refrigerator in my TT. I had to tell the shop manager why the installation was wrong. Of course, what does some “old guy” like me know. The CW shop manager told me the installation was correct, in a forceful tone. Hum, I’m a licensed aircraft mechanic. I can see chafing wires, missing insulation, and improper venting. Oh, and I can read the Installation Manual. So, after letting the CW shop manager rant on for a while, I opened the Installation Manual and read it to him. Oops, dead silence! Avoid CW at all costs.

Neal Davis
24 days ago

Well, I am just as likely to buy it from CW whether it has the EB logo splashed hither and yon or not. That is, the naive probability is identical to zero at as many decimal places as you care to examine. In other words, if CW has it for sale, I ain’t buyin’. If Amazon doesn’t offer it, then there are many places not named CW that will sell it to me.

Paul B.
24 days ago

Any company, absolutely ANY COMPANY jumping into bed with Lemonis deserves the STD (Stock Terminating Destruction) they’re asking for.

Neal Davis
24 days ago
Reply to  Paul B.

I do hope that you’re right Paul B. 🙂 🙂 🙂

24 days ago

I can’t speak to Eddie Bauer, but when I owned a 520 site RV resort, I couldn’t believe the poor quality of Dutchmen trailers I saw come in. They were the Chevy Chevette of RVs; low priced, lots of glitz and absolutely pure junk construction. And this was in the 90s!! I seriously doubt if their quality has improved with the CW/ Eddie Bauer line. Just my 2 cents.

Jim Johnson
24 days ago

I stopped going into Eddie Bauer stores when they became fashionistas and stopped carrying actual outdoor gear. Camping World jumping into this marketing schtick is par for CW and won’t sell me a single item.

Bob P
24 days ago

Your reputation precedes you, camping world and Thor are two names I avoid like Covid-19.

24 days ago

Don’t forget Camping World is a major sponsor of both National Hotrod Racing Association (NHRA) and NASCAR. This op-ed is about marketing 101 and CW is doing just that.

Larry Lagerberg
24 days ago

This conflates the selling of and the manufacturing of RVs. I wouldn’t buy from Camping World but I’d certainly buy something they sell. Go to a different dealer and research the best brands. I bought a Rockwood and love it.

24 days ago

And the gullible public will pass their hard earned Benjamin’s for the bling, not knowing what’s behind the other door.

John S
24 days ago

This is by no means the first of this type of collaboration nor will it be the last. It’s been going on for decades. For example, look at pick ups and SUVs partnering with Eddie Bauer, REI, LL Beans and others. Actually, I’m surprised it took Camping World so long to jump into this marketing gimmick.

24 days ago

Wow! Designer RV’s.

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