Does This Series Of Ads Offend You?

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…

Pearl Izumi - Offensive

PI Offensive 2

PI9 PI10 PI11 PI12 joggers high PI5 PI3 PI4

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.


75 thoughts on “Does This Series Of Ads Offend You?

  1. I don’t jog just because I don’t want to find all the dead bodies.

    But, seriously, does it offend me? … eeeeehhhh … not personally. But, I think it’s insensitive with the notion that if you are running at a certain standard you shouldn’t be running at all.

    What is the point of the ads though? Do they want to exclusive or inclusive? Sounds like they only want the uber fast to buy their product. In that regard from a marketing point of view that’s kind of stupid.

    But, personally, I just ignore it. No point in getting my panties all up in a bunch.

  2. Wow that’s a way to motivate people to exercise! Way to motivate people to be active and healthy and combat obesity. Because none of those fast runners had to work at it. Sheesh, they were fast from the get go, never had to train for that pace, and never had to lose weight to get there.

    • That’s one of the most arrogant things that I’ve ever read. I know tons of people who overcame obesity and became successful runners. It’s your issue that you should work on if you think it’s impossible. I worked my butt off for 10 years to be where I am and so did the pros. If you’re talented and do not work hard, then you WILL get your ass handed to you in any sport. Hard work conquers talent every time if you want it badly enough. Now don’t get me wrong, the ads are extremely offensive, but you are much more offensive to those who have sacrificed their whole lives to achieve greatness in running. Everybody is a runner and the slower should respect the quicker just as much as the quicker should respect the slower. Grow up.

    • I agree that these ads can be seen as very exclusive but so is your comment. To allude that fast runners, or even elite athletes do not have to work for their results is simply ludicrous. They work as hard and in the case of elite athletes, much harder than any of us. I understand you are offended but please take it out on the correct party and not your fellow runners.

      • Well said Eric. I didn’t mean to imply that the fast runners out there don’t work their butts off. I just didn’t like the exclusivity that the ad campaign implied. Some people will work their entire lives and never run faster than a 10 minute mile but they are out there working at it and that is what is important.

        I have nothing but respect for the elite runners out there. I am friends with many of them. However, the elite runners I know are kind and do nothing but encourage the slower runners in the field.

    • Some people weren’t born with sarcasm sensors. P.S. I don’t mean this literally.

      As for the ads, I think they are trying to target the people who think they are elite and also those who strive to be considered “fast runners”, whatever your definitions of “elite” and “fast” are.

  3. When I hear jogging I think of it as not full effort. Maybe half effort. But as someone who has run sub 3 marathon and a 16 minute 5k I never judge a person based on their time, but on how much they gave in training and in the race. For some walking a 5k in an hour is a huge accomplishment. For some running a 3:30 marathon is a huge disappointment. For me running is about improvement and being grateful for how far you’ve come. But as long as you’re giving full effort you’re running in my book.

  4. I don’t know if it offends me, but I don’t like it. They are a bit off the mark when they talk about what running is. To me, running is not about chasing down my food, it is to help me keep my sanity. Maybe what I do is seen as jogging to this company, but to me, it’s not. I am a runner, I have been since the first time I felt the NEED to run. It is no longer about weight loss; it is part of WHO I am. But, I don’t need to prove that to anybody other than myself.
    I certainly know what brand of shoe I WON’T be buying 🙂

  5. I saw the We Are Not Joggers One. I was highly offended. They denigrate people who “mosey” across the line. I did a marathon in 2013 after not training due to a stress fracture in my left foot. It took me over 7 hours because I walked, but I can assure you I was not moseying, not by any definition. Pearl Izumi can suck it.

  6. I don’t get emotionally involved in stuff like this. I don’t care whether people say or write “jogging” or “running”.

  7. The add doesn’t offend me at all. While I will never place – I will not do anything with expectations of “just finishing”. I train my hardest and leave it all in the race. The concept of signing up just to finish is ridiculous to me.

    • Thank you for your comment Traci. All of the runners I associate with, elite and back of the pack runners give 110% in their training and their races. None of them have a just finish the race attitude. I felt these ads talked down to everyone who can’t run a particular pace that in Pearl Izumi’s mind is considered elite. I don’t let these ads ruin my day, I don’t tie my self-esteem to being called a jogger or runner. I was more offended for my friends who do take 5-6 hours to run a marathon.

      • Where does 110% come into play? No one can give more than 100% (sarcasm and fact).So you really think you and your group run 100%? Please consider that few leave all out on the course and surely not every time. We know when we don’t leave it all out there based on one simple physiological state (ask any D1, AAU or professional track and field coach). If the runner is not deep into oxygen debt and either throwing-up or dang close, they have not performed at their 100%. Walkers for the most part don’t. Most runners rarely go deep into oxygen debt. Pacers don’t. The longer race directors allow the course to be open, the more runners you see not leaving it all on the course. With elites, most will leave all on the course. Take opinion and preference out. Direct some races. Observe some races in their entirety. Then let us all know how many you saw not leaving it all on the course. It is the majority. Likely, your running group is not that different. In the end they are runners.

  8. No this doesn’t offend me, because these ads are SEVEN years old! If anyone does any research about this time in the racing culture you would understand.
    Also, there are a lot of “big wig” runners and even 1 person who writes for Runners World wrote an article not to long ago.
    There are going to be purists in every sport especially running, that think that walking a marathon or any “race” isn’t good enough & it takes away from the race itself.
    Pearl Izumi is a great company these days, so don’t judge them by a 7 year old ad!

    • I’m aware that the ads are 7 years old. I only saw them for the first time yesterday (I guess I’m living under a rock). Pearl Izumi definitely hasn’t gained any ground in the running shoe market since they launched (still under 1% market share). The message of the ads remains the same. I was actively running in 2007 and the culture was not radically different.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment Carrie! I love a good discussion about running.

      • Duh, statute of limitations on being offended is 6 years in Utah. In other states it’s more. Soooo I guess it depends on where you live?

        My position is that taking offense is a choice we make and too many people take things that don’t really matter and make them larger than they should be. It’s not that I don’t believe they can’t be discussed and debated but people need to stop looking for ways to be offended.

        I had never seen the ads either so thanks for sharing. I think they are clever but I see why some people could choose to be offended by them.

  9. Wow I do find this series of adds offensive. No one really jogs..they are just running slow. We are all runners…with different abilities. I am not as gifted as most runners and struggle to maintain a 12 minute mile….but I do this without stopping and the fact that most people are faster than me has not made me feel so shamed that I don’t keep trying. Yes some people could walk faster than I can run..We should revel in all runners accomplishments. While one person can run a sub 3 hour marathon…and another slowly plods out a six hour marathon…the shear endurance to get that done takes a lot of guts and will power….in fact likely more guts and will power than the former.

  10. I talked to a marathon winner at a Toronto marathon and I was admiring his ability to run that distance at his pace. He was admiring my ability to run for as long as I did It’s all perspective. My perspective says I won’t be buying this particular brand of shoe … ever.

    • Thanks Kristie. Most elites I know are nice to the rest of us in the field like the winner of the Toronto marathon was. This is another reason I think that Pearl Izumi seriously missed the mark with these ads.

  11. Whatever. I won’t be buying Pearl Izumi gear. And they don’t want me to wear it, anyway, since I’m a 5 hour marathoner. Again, whatever.

  12. People run at different paces. Judging anyone who is actually out there running, even if it may be a jogging pace for some, is ridiculous. We all do the best we can and are having fun doing it. The ads are elitist and insensitive but they don’t bother me. I am confident in who I am and what I can do. The running community where I leave is completely inclusive of everuyone , even those who are very fast. Sure there are those who reflect the sentiments in these ads but they are the minority. I won’t be buying their product ever. Happy Running everyone! No matter the pace!

  13. Maybe they want to continue to hold on to that 1% market share. It doesn’t really offend me, but it seems to be directed to a very specific market, the super speedy folks. Who the hell cares what it’s labeled as long as it enriches your health and life? I called it well being more than anything else.

  14. I think these ads are not going to be inspirational for those of us new runners. Personally, I couldn’t care less what they think, but given the option, I would not buy their products.

  15. This is do awful. I started slowly jogging my first mile. Then 5, then 10, then a little faster. Then 26.2. Then some 50’s and a 100k. Middle of packer, but I’ve worked hard and I’m an athlete. I love to see newby “joggers.” You lost my business with these ads; sadly.

    • Stop judging people by the pace they run. They are not joggers, they are runners who are running at a certain speed.

  16. Man, what to say. Those adds make me feel bad! I am slow. I have worked and worked to get faster. I have lost weight, trained, lifted, run, and done speed workouts. I am still not fast. I love running though and so I keep going out for runs. According to those adds I haven’t achieved anything! I would so disagree! I have respect for everybody out there. I am amazed by the speed of some and the determination of others. I think the adds are distasteful.

    • What is fast? So you are saying you worked and worked and never even improved by 1 second, ever? If you ran a 5k in 24 minutes, then ran it again after training and ran it in 23:59, then congrats, YOU GOT FASTER. Stop judging yourself by the accomplishments of others. Fast is relative to each person. You may not be as fast as the winner of the race, but if you are faster than you were yesterday, celebrate.

  17. Well, certainly Pearl Izumi is marketing towards elite runners and competitive racers. I can respect that. I don’t think there is a company out there that wouldn’t mind having their product(s) pass the finish line first in races across America. What they have done though is attack the majority of runners and their number one customers. This isn’t about differentiating definitions between ‘jogging’ and ‘running’ but rather it insults what many people do as part of their daily lives. People run/jog for various reasons. Who are they (Izumi) to quantify the meaning of the run? We are supposed to be a community of support and encouragement for our fellow runners and joggers. So yes, I do feel these ads are offensive. They don’t motivate me (and I’d say I’m a fairly quick runner). Not impressed Pearl Izumi.

  18. Well, certainly Pearl Izumi is marketing towards elite runners and competitive racers. I can respect that. I don’t think there is a company out there that wouldn’t mind having their product(s) pass the finish line first in races across America. What they have done though is attack the majority of runners and their number one customers. This isn’t about differentiating definitions between ‘jogging’ and ‘running’ but rather it insults what many people do as part of their daily lives. People run/jog for various reasons. Who are they (Izumi) to quantify the meaning of the run? We are supposed to be a community of support and encouragement for our fellow runners and joggers. So yes, I do feel these ads are offensive. They don’t motivate me (and I’d say I’m a fairly quick runner). Not impressed Pearl Izumi.

  19. In a sport where so many of us consider qualifying for Boston an elite status (as you’ve said before, it’s the Olympics of our sport to the average runner) I think they missed the mark. I see what they were trying to do, motivate people to get out of bed and give 110% each and every time they lace up (in whatever snazzy new gear they sell this season, of course). I’m no marketing expert but there are many industries that profit from giving you the backhanded compliment through advertising. They pat you on the back and tell you you’re doing a great job, but maybe with their product you could do even better, look better, feel better, etc. (Seriously how many commercials “compliment” motherhood by making it look like you work so hard, but with “our brand” paper towels you’ll be able to clean up everything from blood, to cereal to sewer sludge with just one paper towel and your life will be this sparkling clean beautiful world. “You’re doing great moms, but look how much better you could be with our product.”) In a way I see that these ads were trying to trigger that. “Running is awesome, but elite running is better. Come be better with us.” Trying to trigger that deep instinct to push yourself harder and come out better. Except that that they forgot the second half of that. As others of have already said it’s the “inclusive” attitude that we’ve come to associate with running that’s missing. In this set of ads, there is no “come be better with us” warm fuzzy. I wasn’t offended by the ads, but that’s because my self-worth is tied up with how running makes me feel, not how fast I am. But I can also see how a new runner might be discouraged if their first experiences with our sport leave them feeling excluded and unwanted for no other reason than that they weren’t born Kenyan.

  20. I don’t find it offensive at all. Running (in a race especially) is about giving what you have to give on that day. Jogging, well jogging implies a half hearted effort. Why bother giving a half hearted effort.

    • Paul – I think that they are equating speed with jogging. Not effort. Just because you aren’t fast doesn’t mean that you are not putting in the effort. But their entire ad campaign seems to be based upon the actual number that is on the clock or your watch.

      • Actually the advertisement never spoke about speed. Not once did it say “Running after than X:XX/mile is a run, anything slower is a jog.” It is you that is interpreting the advertisement to be based on a number. Paul is right, these ads purely mean effort. Run “faster” or “harder” can mean running 5:30/mile if you normally run 6:00/mile AND it can mean running 11:45/mile if you run 12:00/mile.

        Maybe you need to stop judging and classifying people based on how fast they run.

  21. Not everyone is born to be an elite athlete – that can RUN a marathon at a break neck speed. Just like not everyone is born to be a ballerina or born to be a gymnast or Yogi. But that doesn’t mean that we all can’t enjoy participating in a dance or yoga class. Their effort at differentiation has alienated me, and has caused me to consider never purchasing anything they make. Apparently, I am too slow to give them my money for a product.

  22. I think the runner jogger debate is kinda old news and we’re more tolerant as a community with the market expanding to the “fitness runner” and the sad part is that the campaigns would just alienate potential consumers

  23. Offensive, no. Dickish, yes.

    If you run, you’re a runner, by definition. Full stop. Why anyone would care about the line between “jogging” and “running” and what that means is beyond me. I’m too busy worrying about improving my own running.

  24. Do they offend me? No. Its an advertisement, pure and simple. All it is saying is, “If you want to run faster, wear our shoes!” Its not calling people who run 6 min/mile runners “joggers” anymore than 12 min/mile runners. All it is trying to do is motivate people to get off their ass and run. What does offend me is blogs like this. Whining and crying over an advertisement that is almost 10 years old. “Someone said something and it hurt my feelings, wahhhh. Everyone feel bad for me!!!”

    Stop with the pity parties and stop getting offended over something that has no bearing or impact on your life. If these ads ruined your day, maybe you should reconsider your life while out on a jog.

    • Terry… No pity party intended. I don’t let ignorant marketers ruin my day. I simply wanted to call these ads out for being in poor taste. The ads are from 2007. They may have succeeded in getting press but the latest market share numbers show that Pearl is still irrelevant in the running shoe market.

      • Seems like a lot of explaining if you’re not offended. I agree it’s about effort and not speed…but people choose to see things through their own filters. My filter just isn’t the same as yours and that’s what makes America so great.

  25. I gave up running and triathlon because of rubbish like this. I tried so damned hard and put in all the hours and effort with diet. Did it make me any faster? No not really and I was always one the ‘annoying’ slow people these ads refer to just trying to finish and happy to meet the cut offs. I did do a 70.3 Ironman and a full marathon but in the end it ground me down and I lost the love. Who cares; do it because you enjoy it and stuff like these ads and the elitist ethos at my club made me not enjoy it any more.

  26. Based on some of the comments, I feel like I should clarify my feelings about these ads.

    First, I am aware that the ads are from 2007. That information does not change my response to them. Second, these ads did not “ruin my day”, nor was this post created with the intent of throwing a “pity party.” My self esteem is not tied to what a company or the company’s ad agency say about my running. I give 100% in every race I run. My feelings that these ads are in poor taste is due to the elitist nature of them. I admire those that give their all every day and can achieve physical feats that I could only dream of. I am friends with many elite runners. However, I also admire the people at the back of the pack for the determination and hard work they are putting in and for their having the courage to keep pursuing their goals. The elites that I associate with encourage the back of the pack runners. I simply felt these ads discouraged the back of the pack runners and told them to avoid showing up at races because their presence hurt the purity of the race. That is the attitude that I found distasteful.

  27. Interesting read. I’m not offended. I think they are trying to market to a certain type of person, and I am not that person. I don’t agree with what the campaign is about, but I wouldn’t raise a stink about it. I’ll just roll my eyes and move on 😉

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  30. I think if those ads offend you then you are clearly the person they are talking about. They don’t diminish a person in a park jogging, but they distinguish them from a runner. No one who plays pick up basketball with their friends on Tuesdays compares themself to Lebron or Kobe, no one who played tball is angry when a dividing line is drawn between them and the pros, and no one who has a blog is insulted when the evident contrast between them and twain; Fitzgerald, or Golding is pointed out. So why should joggers be offended when they are not called runners..

  31. If they actually think that humans “RUN DOWN” their prey by OUTRUNNING their prey, they don’t have a very good grasp of how that sort of subsistence hunting actually works. There are very, VERY few animals that humans can outrun. Our ancestors (and the few remaining groups that practice that style of hunting) ran prey down by WEARING THEM OUT. By keeping the animal moving until until it’s exhausted and overheated. You do that by being able to run far and steady more than by being fast. I’d love to see the ad designer (or any other person, actually) try to catch an antelope by outrunning it.

  32. Not offended. Someone in marketing determined there is a demographic that will spend money when given a specific message. I’m not sure who that demographic is. I’ve met some fast and very serious runners. None of them have attitude.

    Whatever, I’ll crawl across at five hours and feel great about it. Some marketing department in a company I haven’t heard about is irrelevant to my happiness and success.

  33. I personally find these ads very offensive! Apparently, if you are not fast, your not trying hard. Not everyone is super speedy. There are some days I push my self really hard to only have a slow time. What matters is that we try our hardest! Also, my husband finds it funny that I don’t like to be called a jogger. I have nominated you for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award, you can check it out here

  34. These ads are very old, I’m not sure how old but older than 5 years maybe 7. I think they are pretty funny and seem to be meant tongue in cheek.

    I am a VERY slow jogger and while I’ve never been obese, these ads make me giggle and think that everyone is just a bit too sensitive these days.

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