Arc’teryx Girl

Since the beginning of time (my time) I’ve been a skier. Any winter that did not involve skiing is pre-memory for me.  So, I’ve pretty much seen it all – in ski gear that is. Leather ski boots, to plastic rear entry, to my new Lange ‘slippers’ with Sure Foot liners. And while I once bragged about the length and stiffness of my skis, today it’s all about shape and girth. Then there’re the clothes, from my hand-me-down matching orange jacket and pants to my blue stretch pants with padded knees (so cool) to my back-country one-piece and now everything Gore-Tex. Yes, I’ve done my share to keep the ski industry afloat. And while I’ve been a part of this microcosm of consumerism for (ahem) 39 years, I was recently moved by how brand prolific it is. Recently while in Whistler (my mountain of choice), as if coming out of a dream, I suddenly noticed, how surrounded I was by brands. Brand names and labels covered me and my fellow ski buddies from head to toe. So I decided to count… brands that is. In a gondola lift of 4 people no less than 28 brand names were visible to me. Here goes. Helmets: Giro, Bern, Smith, POC. Goggles:  Smith, Oakley, Bolle, Carrera. Neck Warmer: REI. Jackets: Helly Hansen, Arc’teryx, Descente, Columbia. Ski cam: Sony. Gloves: Dakine, Marmot, Outdoor Research, Black Diamond. Pants: North Face, Burton, Hard Wear. Boots: Tecnica, Lange, Burton, Rossignol. Poles: Leki, Scott, Dynastar. Oh and throw in a few ‘Gore-Tex’ labels on top. Yes, there were only four of us in that gondola… and no,...

Kony 2012! Move Me

KONY 2012 has moved me – 10 minutes into the video, www.kony2012.com I’d pledged some funds and forwarded the site to my database of friends.  I like to consider myself an ‘aware’ citizen and I’m familiar with Kony’s heinous crimes, but this video had me digging deeper and learning more. I can’t imagine that anyone in North America, at least, has been left untouched by now. The online movement moved into the mainstream press two nights ago and with this the scrutiny of the pundits as they take a magnifying glass to the purpose and tactics of Invisible Children and the video projecting its message.  In this ‘age of transparency’ nonprofits sit alongside private companies in their glass houses.  We expect full disclosure. This is a highly sensitive political issue and when lives are at stake it is critical to look at all sides.  I agree with much of what I’ve been reading.  Clearly this is a complicated situation, and perhaps some of the facts have been glossed over.  And yes corruption in the region adds huge complexities to handling the dismantling of Joseph Kony. Invisible Children can’t un-kidnap these children, breathe life back into their parents, de-maim them or give them back their childhoods. But they can bring light to a severe situation that is unknown to most; I am surprised by how few of my friends and colleagues were aware of this situation. I believe this movement is the type that can instill a passion in us.  That it can motivate us to use our voices to move governments to change a situation that does not have...

Better than the Gap?

I went to see ‘Crazy, Stupid Love’ this weekend.  While I can’t say it offered me much more than a quick escape from the afternoon rain and depressing reminders of a  looming double dip and global economic woes, one scene left me wondering.  Is Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) really better than the Gap? Much of the film is dedicated to the transformation of Cal from boring, middle-aged, divorcee stripped of his manhood into a smooth, confident bachelor even his ex-wife would lust after.  During a shopping excursion to acquire the fashion items the slickly  dressed womanizing Jacob (Ryan Gosling) insists he needs to fit the part, Cal is  faced with embracing his new look, his new designer jeans, and…. dropping the  Gap.  In the middle of Century Plaza, in a Tony Robinson convention-esque way, Jacob coaches Cal into declaring aloud “I am better than the Gap.” Initially, I cringed – yikes I wonder how the Gap feels about that product mention.  But then all I could wonder was, hey… what happened to the Gap? I used to shop at the Gap regularly.  Didn’t we all?  For years, when I needed a quick reliable new addition to my wardrobe, I’d hit the Gap.  It was never just jeans to me,  although I’ve bought many a pair there. No, the Gap provided a solution for belts,  t-shirts definitely, a funky little top for that evening’s outing.  I counted on the Gap.  But somewhere along the way, and I couldn’t pinpoint when, that changed. The last time I bought anything for myself at the Gap was out of dire necessity.  Eighteen months ago,  the middle of winter...

The Tour de France is a branding Tour de Force (Part Three)

So back to the sponsors. The Tour de France official website lists 44 official suppliers and partners, including broadcast and technical partners. Each has their opportunity for brand exposure, much of which happens in the publicity caravan. But the caravan does not get much TV time, at least not what I could see and I watched the tour coverage on French television and back in NY on Versus, the NBC owned sports network which covered the entire tour live and consumed a lot of my time this July. The brands that get the most out of the TV coverage are the team sponsors. As mentioned, there are 22 teams. Each consists of nine riders. That’s nine jerseys plus cycling shorts covered in the team sponsor logos, plus the support vehicles, bikes and water bottles. Now, with generally four hours of live TV coverage for each of the 21 stages of the race, that’s a lot of time for marketable moments and brand exposure. Team Garmin-Cervelo, incidentally my team of choice, cleaned up this year. They won best overall team which means they also enjoyed their team members out front in the small breakaway groups getting maximum TV time. First, world champion and lead rider of the Germin-Cervelo team, Thor Hushovd, sprinted to third place in the opening stage. Next, the team powered to victory in the stage 2 team time trial putting Hushovd into the yellow jersey. The team defended the jersey until stage nine, with all the TV exposure that goes with that. Hushovd ‘s giving credit for his win to his Cervelo S5 highly aerodynamic bike was...
The Tour de France is a branding Tour de Force (Part Two)

The Tour de France is a branding Tour de Force (Part Two)

After a bit of online research, I was intrigued to discover that the Tour de France was the brainchild of a sports writer at L’Auto newspaper and its editor, Henri Desgrange, as a tactic to boost circulation. And, well it worked… the first race in 1903 captured the imagination of France and L’Auto‘s circulation increased from 25,000 to 65,000 and knocked L’Auto‘s main competitor paper out of business within two years. Circulation continued to grow reaching 250,000 within 5 years, 500,000 after 20 and 854,000 ten years after that. This Tour around France invented bicycle stage racing. The rules of the race changed many times in the early years. In 1930 when the founder believed the sponsors and manufacturers were undermining the spirit of a Tour de France of individuals, he insisted that competitors ride only yellow no-name-brand plain yellow bicycles that he provided. So, in that year the Tour changed into a competition largely between teams representing their countries rather than their corporate sponsors. Desgrange raised the money needed to cover the costs of supporting the riders by charging advertisers to precede the race, rather than follow it as sponsors had previously done - and we had the birth of Tour de France publicity caravan. Between 1930 and the mid-1960s, the years before television and television advertising in France, the caravan was at its height. Advertisers competed to attract public attention. Today, the excesses to which advertisers are allowed to go are limited, but at first anything went. The caravan precedes the riders by an hour and a half during each stage of the race and takes a...
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