Friday, March 23, 2012

Should a Blogger Be Chastised For An Opinion

This is a bit of an unusual subject for me, and for this blog in general, but I believe it is worth posting and hopefully some good discussion will come out of it.

Because is that not what a 'Personal' blog is for?

Now obviously there is some limits to what should be posted on blogs, personal attacks, defamation of character, racial slurs, etc, there is no place for that type of stuff anywhere. The world has enough of that type of crap in it, so I will be the first one to say all that is and should be off limits. Damn it, there are kids out there that could be reading this stuff, so get your head out of your ass and be responsible for tomorrow's youth.

This being said, I have a real problem with what has happened to a friend of mine this week, who posted on her blog, about something that was so blown so out of proportion, that she had people calling her at work and threatening not only her personal well-being but also her livelihood. She got put into such a predicament that she almost lost her job due to it and she was basically forced to issue an apology for something that in my opinion and that of many others there was need to apologize for. She has subsequently pulled the original post from her blog due to the undeserved backlash from the minority who believed they were being slighted.

Now I must say, I am a big fan of Vanessa's blog, Vanessa Runs and I get her posts emailed to me when she publishes them so I do not miss them. So of course I read the post and as usual thought it was a great piece of writing. Yes, the title was edgy, utilizing the "WORD" to reference joggers, but I took this as a typical, 'grab you by the short and curlys' to entice you to read more and to find out where she was going with it. I did not take it personally, I did not think it was directed at me or at anyone in particular, nor did I think that anyone else would either, I took it for what it was, the title to another writer's thoughts.

I cannot see how anyone who would of read the entire post could of interpreted that she was calling anyone anything. Vanessa was clearly discussing one companies marketing strategy to one particular demographic, in this case Pearl Izumi and the elite runners (or want to be elite runners like myself). If you read the post from start to finish, you will clearly understand that Vanessa is stating that running is a attitude it has nothing to do with speed or ability, it has to do with the love of running. I am not the fastest runner by any stretch of the imagination, and some may classify me as a jogger, but I love to run, I do not run for anyone other than myself, thus I consider myself a runner.

Jogger's are runners too, let me get that out of the way, they may not always run for the love of it, they may run for other reasons like health, vanity, etc. Just the fact that they are out there chugging down the road or path is a great sign and shows that there is some dedication involved. Because everybody can make up excuses to not do something if they really want too. So hats off to the joggers out there that are putting the effort in.

Now the million dollar question, were they being slighted?

I don't think so, I personally think that those who did get offended did not read the post, they saw the title and were so wound up that they took it personally and not how it was intended to come across. I believe that Vanessa was trying to grab your attention and draw people into the post and nothing more, she was not trying to offend anyone nor was she trying to offend joggers in general. Further to this the title nor the post merited the response that she got. People need to take a good look at themselves in the mirror and learn to laugh. Because there is already to much serious stuff happening in the world today, we do not need to get hyped up over a something as silly as a title to a blog post. But that is just my opinion.

I have copied the original post below for you to develop your own opinion, and I have also included Vanessa's apology as per her request, Pearl Izumi and Pussy Apology, even though IMO she did not need to because there really is nothing to apologize for. I give all my support to Vanessa and I am ashamed of those out there that put her through a very unpleasant few days that she should not of had to endure.

Please post your comments, as I am curious to the opinions of others, but lets keep it to a discussion not a s**tshow.



New post on Vanessa Runs

Pearl Izumi Ads Separate the Runners

 From the Pussies… I Mean Joggers

by vanessaruns

Last night I got home to find a box of Pearl Izumi gear on my doorstep. I’ve never tried this product before, but they emailed me last week to ask if they could send over some clothes and shoes. I agreed.
Afterwards I found out that this brand has been frowned upon and called out on The Marathon Show due to an ad campaign that seems to trivialize “joggers” and slower, non-competitive runners. I went online to see what the debate was about, and here are the ads I found:

The Criticisms

  • This campaign offends and trivializes slower runners.
  • We should be encouraging all physical activity, even walking.
  • Running does not have to be competitive.
  • Finishing a marathon is a big accomplishment, regardless of time.

My Reaction

Are the critics justified? Should we be holding this brand accountable for marginalizing slower or non-competitive runners? God knows I can be pretty damn slow.
But when I see these ads, I don’t think about speed or ability. To me, they’re about an attitude toward running.
They describe a person who is committed to running. Running is a large part of their life. It takes up a great deal of their time. They make sacrifices to run. They plan their schedules around running. They are runners.
These products are marketed to athletes who crave the wilderness and remote trails. Runners who move like wildlife. Not joggers who huff around the block because they ate too much and feel guilty.
We crave running for RUNNING. Not for health. Not for weight loss. Not for recognition.
That doesn’t mean we’re not slow sometimes. It doesn’t mean we never walk. It doesn’t mean we don’t run for fun. But when we do all those things, we still feel like cheetahs.
Years ago, I was that huffing, overweight runner. But even in my worst shape, I never considered myself a jogger. I was always a runner growing into my own skin. Now physically capable of doing what I always knew I must.

A Marketing Risk

If we analyze this from a marketing viewpoint, Pearl Izumi has been successful. They have gotten people to debate their product, and they have taken a risk to create a sense of elitism around their brand. Instead of trying to sell to anyone with a pulse, they have carved out a very specific target market and risked the disdain of everyone else.
How is this any different than Marathon Maniacs? Selling clothing as a status symbol only to those who qualify? Yet nobody gets offended when they see a Maniac run by.
Or back when INKnBURN was successfully marketed to only ultra runners, you couldn’t wear the brand unless you had completed an ultra. Aspiring ultra runners waited patiently and planned for the day when they could finally wear INKnBURN.
A very vivid and pleasant memory for me was when Shacky peeled off the INKnBURN shirt off his back and handed it to me, right after I ran my first ultra distance. It such a positive emotional experience that I’ve since driven sales to that company, recommended them, gotten to know the owners, toured the facilities, written reviews, and marketed for them.
Stepping out of the running world, we see car commercials associated with elitism and luxury. Brands that aren’t just for ANYONE: Wines. Gourmet food. Clothing.
The value of setting up your brand as a status symbol is immeasurable, and from a business perspective I applaud Pearl Izumi for setting themselves apart, for speaking to me and “my kind” directly, and for reaching out to me personally.
Yes, physical activity is important at all levels. I spend most of my day encouraging others to become more active, to eat healthier, and reap the benefits of running. But that doesn’t mean I have everything in common with anyone who runs.
At a marathon starting line, I never feel like the other runners. How many of them dream of running 100 miles? How many of them run 20 miles the day before a race? How many schedule back-to-back ultras? How many look for the hardest, most challenging race they can find—and immediately sign up?
The products marketed to ALL runners are not for me—the GUs, the supportive shoes, the foam rollers. I don’t carb load, I don’t taper, and I don’t stretch. I’m more of a slap- a-sandwich-together-at-the-crack-of-dawn-and-don’t-come-home-until-it’s -dark type of runner.
The truth is I’ve never been drawn to a running brand that targets the masses. In fact, anything targeting the masses is an immediate turn-off for me. I know I’m different enough that I will probably hate a product that works for everyone else.
But the Pearl Izumi ads talk about trails so remote you could dump a dead body. Mileage so high that you’re burning through gear. And movements so smooth that you feel like a wild animal. Not everybody runs like this. But I do. And I get it.
Thanks Pearl Izumi for noticing me, and picking me out from the crowd.


  1. Yeah, People need a life and need to chill. I have read the article Vanessa wrote and saw nothing offensive. What I found offensive was the response she received. Honestly, are people that shallow and undefined that one word can make them question their whole existence? I am guessing that they are considering the response -- Perhaps the Mayan apocalypse may not be a bad thing if these people are the majority!

    1. Kate, it amazes me too, that is why I am so disturbed by the reaction that has come about. I am a prime example of someone who can laugh at himself and I have no concern if people laugh at me. Hell, I run barefoot, sport a kilt for some of my runs and generally just want to have fun. But this being said I love to run and life is to short to be offended by trivial things.

  2. Dear Bob,

    Thank you for your comments. I too am a big fan of Vanessa's blog but I am also a big fan of Vanessa herself. She is really something.

    I am for the most part a road runner.I run 25-30 miles per week and it has taken me about three years to get this point. I meet regularly with a running group. We have all kinds. Some run ultras, some run marathons, and some just want to run a few miles and then get coffee. All the above is ok with me. I only get ticked off when one of them thinks I am like an uncle to them! WTF?

    Vanessa's original post was not out of line. I think it was a great piece. Running is a way of life. The ultra runners spend their weekends running and running and running. Some of them wear funny costumes or kilts during their run. This tribe will purchase from a distinct group of products Why not? I am ok buying from the masses because its convenient.

    My Dad had a good saying "Different Strokes for Different Folks." Run the ultra races or run the 5K races. From there you can buy whatever you want. I try to support the beginners because I remember starting out myself. It hard!

    I live my life not judging others. If you love running 100 mile races then more power to you. If you only want to run a few miles and have coffee than thats ok too.

    Do you think I would look good in an InknBurn shirt? I am never running an ultra but I hope we can still be friends.

    Uncle Thor.

    1. Uncle Thor :-)
      Really like that sayin' your Dad was a smart man indeed. Your take on things, is also mine, just the ability to get out there and run whether it is 1 mile or 100 miles (soon very soon) is what is important. Whether you are a hard core elite or just a "jiggly jogger" it does not matter as everybody is different and everybody has different priorities.

      If you worry about yourself and not what others are thinking you are miles ahead, and life is good. If you are worried about what others think and stress about it, it will be a short unhappy life for you.

      I think you would look great in a InknBurn shirt, ultra or not, and why not I have run the ultras (2 and counting) and damn it I know I would look good so if I would look good then damn it you would look like a rock star.

      Friends are forever, and I would be proud to call you a friend because you have the right attitude and I believe we are quite similar.

      Yes Vanessa rocks as a blogger and more so as a person, she is a inspiration to those of us that have goals and want to push but need that little bit of a kick in the ass to just do it.

  3. I'm not a huge fan of the Pearl Izumi ad campaign, but I actually loved Vanessa's blog about it. She's an amazing writer and I look forward to her take on things. The attacks on her are insane. I kind of thought blogs were a place you were SUPPOSED to express your opinions. It's fine to respectfully disagree, but these people went way over the line. I know Vanessa must have been seriously rattled by this whole thing, but I also know she's a strong woman and a serious runner and writer and I look forward to her next post.

  4. Kudos to you Gina, I agree with you completely. I know Vanessa will be back writing just as strong as ever.