I have a question. Does the series of Pearl Izumi running shoe ads below offend you?
I stumbled across this series of ads earlier this week and thought the whole series was extremely distasteful. I think it is safe to say that the marketing team that created this campaign in an attempt to differentiate their brand completely missed the mark. You don’t gain market share in a demographic by insulting and belittling the majority of the demographics members. I am a reasonably fast runner. I have run close to 3 hours in the marathon and I have run the Boston Marathon, but I have never had anything but respect for the slower runners on the course. According to these ads, a large portion of the running community should just quit and go sit on the couch because they cannot run a sub 3 hour marathon or a 16 minute 5k (the marketing team at Pearl Izumi wasn’t kind enough to quantify how fast you have be to be a real runner). The spirit of these ads completely ignores the history of the American running boom and the shoe market it created in the 1970’s.
The running boom in the United States was ironically started by a book written by legendary University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman titled “Jogging.” The success of the book led to “jogging” classes being taught in communities across the nation. Everyone was invited, not just those with natural athletic ability that could run endless 6 minute miles with minimal effort. It is this spirit of acceptance that has kept the running / jogging community growing steadily since the release of Bowerman’s book.
I think that using the word jogging in a derogatory manner is an insult to the history of the sport of distance running in America. In my humble opinion, if you are out on the road running 13 minute miles, you are still running.
The latest market share numbers I could find regarding US running shoes didn’t even have Pearl Izumi included in the chart because their share of the market is below 1%. I think it is safe to assume that the elitist message Pearl Izumi put forth in this series of ads didn’t have the effect that Pearl Izumi was hoping for.
Now, without further ranting on my part, I present to you the ads…
What do you think about these ads? Do you find them offensive to the average runner? I would love to here you thoughts in the comments.