Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pearl Izumi's got anticar religion

Has anybody else noticed Pearl Izumi's recent anti-car fervor? I present two items of evidence. Exhibit 1 is their "PETROLEUM: Satan's Energy Drink" at their Interbike booth last September, complete with "$6.66" for the price of gas. You can't see it in this photo, but "Satan's Energy Drink" is in huge letters at the bottom of the gas pump.

666 Satan's Energy Drink

Exhibit 2 is a Pearl Izumi poster in a recent issue of Road magazine. Most people possibly didn't notice it because the flip side is a pinup featuring a scantily clad woman that I definitely would not be permitted to hang in my harassment-free work place, but one side features a pile of crushed cars with "AMEN" in huge bold letters.

Pearl Izumi gets anti-car religion

I like the marketing, but it just seems odd to me. I don't perceive Pearl Izumi's target market to be the car-free crowd. They sell excellent technical cycling gear (of which I own and use several items), but the typical "cars r coffins" folks generally wear street clothes, while somebody wearing a pair of $200 Pearl Izumi bibs, $180 PI Octane jersey, $20 PI microsensor skullcap, $25 arm warmers and leg warmers and $50 PI gloves probably is also the demographic for all of them SUV ads in Bicycling magazine.

My perception: A company like Clif, which has a history of corporate responsibility and involvement, has a genuine message. I could be wrong, but Pearl Izumi's campaign strikes me as somebody who's jumping in on a fad and doing "green" marketing because it's the in thing.


Anonymous said...


Maybe some higher up at their company believes in the message :P

Steve Nordstrom said...

Its not about the people wearing the gear and their socio-economic situation: these ads get at the roadie's desire to be out on the bike more often than he or she is, and with less automobile traffic to compete with them for roadspace. They about getting more people on bikes, not appealing to a hipster subculture demographic that refuses to ride with more than one gear, and will probably exit the market just as quickly as they entered it after the fad dies down. The SUV owner who uses his or her bike 1-5 days a week instead of his or her vehicle is participating in the spirit of the message these ads send. They certainly can appreciate the desire to save money on gas through using a human-powered vehicle to get around.

Joel said...

"Pearl Izumi's campaign strikes me as somebody who's jumping in on a fad and doing "green" marketing because it's the in thing."

It's not even about 'green', green marketing is 'bike more drive less' not 'cars are evil and should be destroyed'. Somebody at PI is either a true believer like the first poster said, or they just want to cash in on the mid-sized but vehement cars-r-coffins movement.

Herbert said...

Well, with the rising gas prices we might be forced to ride our bikes, whether we believe in "green marketing" or not.

Anonymous said...

Yeah it may be PR but on Sunday I cycled past two similar cars-r-coffins lots with my young sons. We had a great laugh over our fellow citizens' investments. Young minds are wonderful.

SiouxGeonz said...

I was thinking that somebody somewhere in the marketing process got that in and the 'higher up' dudes didn't really dig it, but it was better than whatever other lame marketing stuff was proferred. Either that or somebody's *really* patriotic in the chain of command and sees oil dependence as a threat.
I dunno, I don't see SUV folks feeling drawn by those ads, though I've never understood how guilt conflicts work in the human mind.

Fritz said...

Pearl Izumi is based in Broomfield, Colorado, which broke away from Boulder County a few years ago over development, open space and tax issues. Nevertheless, no doubt many of their workers live in neighboring Boulder County and might be influenced by some of the anticar politics in the city of Boulder.

Speaking of green athletic wear companies, I should have also mentioned Patagonia, which has long committed itself to environtmental action through grants, fabrics made from recycled plastics, "green" construction in their buildings, and so forth. Still, their very attractive catalogs feature customers who travel the remotest areas of the planet to conquer nature and new and interesting ways, so even with them the message is mixed.

I'm certainly not blameless -- I love snow skiing, for example, which as an industry is destructive of the natural environment.

cafiend said...

Humans seem to respond to simple choices rather than nuanced explanations. "Cars and Oil Bad" keeps it short and to the point.

As for a massive reduction in single speed riders when the fad dies down, anyone who sticks with it for more than a few rides is permanently hooked. You either love it or you hate it. So maybe for fad's sake you keep one around for a little longer than it took you to figure out you hated it, but not too long.