Thursday, November 5, 2015

Selling Sex Is For Morons

There are few slogans on the planet that rankle me quite as much as 'sex sells'. I know, I know -- I've beat this dead horse into the ground.


For whatever reason, there's a fringe segment of uniquely stupid (or stubborn) marketers inside of the bike industry that seem to be ignoring every sign, pattern, writing and shout from their market, and they're hell-bent on delivering the same lazy, overused, undereffective approach to us. Don't ask me why. I don't know. For the life of me, I don't understand why ANY creative director, marketing executive, or art supervisor would ignore the market demands, advertising effectiveness studies, educational theories and continue to publish the drivel that has seeped to the surface this year.

I cannot comprehend the sheer stupidity of it. The utter ignorance. Why would ENDURO magazine publish this? Why would Superior Bikes not swap 'female' for 'recreational'? Why would any company choose to do this in 2015? Or this? Or (f*cking hell), THIS?! 

A photo posted by Amanda Batty (@abattycakes) on

The only answer I'm repeatedly coming up with here is that there are not, in fact, humans running these companies or marketing departments. They have to be monkeys. Or owls. Or bunnies... Yep. That has to be it. Rabbits seem to be the only species this obsessed with boinking and/or projecting the image of boinking. But rabbits seem pretty clever. In fact, if there were indeed rabbits in charge at all of these companies that have created and released sexist or sex-based advertising campaigns, those bunnies likely would have researched their adverts before going live.

Yes, there has been research on this topic. Shocking, I know. But if you think about it, advertising is extremely profitable when it's successful. Advertising is driven by selling people your product by exploiting their wants and desires. Therefore, knowing what people want is, potentially, ridiculously lucrative. How do we find out what people want? By studying them, of course! Seems pretty straightforward, yes?


Because all of those companies missed this study featured on Havard Business Review. And that one. Oh, and the French and British ones from 2013, too. I found them pretty easily on Google, so my hypothesis is that there are rabbits who cannot use Google running these companies.

And yet, these are the marketing efforts not only seen by those of us inside the cycling industry, but outside as well. And from the looks of things, the mainstream doesn't like what it sees. When Glamour magazine, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, CNN and other large, far-reaching media outlets take issue with what's going on inside of our niche sport, it's time for serious review

If this awful content was actually an attempt to sell a product, I would understand. But it's not -- none of these campaigns actually market or sell a specific product outside of sex. It's not a real advertisement. Rather, my guess is that this is a woefully inept attempt to maintain the status quo and keep these ego-driven creators employed in a rapidly changing economy. My guess is that this isn't about cycling whatsoever, but about the insistence of these marketers to hang on to an antiquated, overused business model in order to relive and recreate the days when they were relevant (and/or sexually virile). Yes, I went there. Because this isn't about what the customer wants, the product they're selling or the industry demands. This is about the people directly responsible for this so-called 'marketing'.  

And despite what many people have claimed, this isn't about me. It's not about me playing victim. This isn't about my career, my racing, or the sexual standards I'm expected to uphold all while being 'the cool girl'. Hell, remove all of the women (feminist or otherwise) from this equation. Remove the future generations of girls on bikes. Take away our female athletes' involvement in any sport. It comes down to smart business. This is about taking stock of opportunity, looking at the industries that it hasn't worked for in the past and figuring out what we can sell. This is all about why cycling is special and why anyone should want to get involved. 

Figure out what people want. Cater to the market that is buying. Find out why we're here. Question your own motives for being on a bike. If you're here to get laid, I'll tell you what: you picked the wrong damn place, my friend. We're all just a bunch of overly-passionate nerds riding around on motorless toys that cost more than a down payment on a nice home. I'm not here because it makes me feel sexy. I'm not here because there are attractive people. I'm not even here to get fit, for christ's sake! I'm here because it makes me feel strong. It makes me feel weak. It makes me work hard, and it rewards my hard work. I'm here because of the immutable laws of gravity, of velocity, of force. I'm here because it hurts and because it heals. I'm here because there are days, weeks, months where the only thing that makes sense is the revolution of my tires and the sweat dripping into my eyes. I'm still here because nothing is more real than the second I make contact with the ground.

This is what we sell. And if you can't understand that, maybe you shouldn't be here; it's not about tits, it's not about ass. It's about how a bike makes a person feel. And that's it.
Sell that. 

And if we can't sell that, we clearly aren't hiring the right people to sell it. 

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