Wednesday, January 11, 2006

KHS and advertising in the cycling industry.

The piece I wrote yesterday about KHS has gotten a lot of great attention and has started some great dialog here the past two days.

I just want to point out that even though KHS is the only company mentioned by name and used as an example, they are far from being the only company "guilty" of the type of marketing efforts discussed. The cycling industry is full of advertising and marketing efforts that take the low road and go straight for the "sex sells" approach. True enough, it does sell. However, it is my belief that those gains are short lived and do not add to a brand's credibility. Anybody remember those horrible colored Macaw Tires (sorry, I tried to find a link to them but couldn't) from the mid 90's with the ad that had a row of women in thong bikinis? A few folks may remember the ads, good or bad, but the tires are now long gone and were never really taken very seriously.

Though KHS was the example used, they are far from being alone. My whole point is that the bikes they sell are being held back by their advertising, at least the type outlined yesterday. The product merits a better image to help it sell. (KHS- I think you guys have good product. Honest, so don't sue me. Just ask my wife, I'm pennyless and not worth coming after.)

My bigger point is that the entire industry needs to look at the way it presents itself. By going after the crotch appeal, you automatically run the risk of alienating one group of potential consumers. Plus, it not only reduces your brand's credibility, but it has the potential to turn outside investors away from the industry or the sport. If we collectively raise the bar and increase our professionalism, the entire industry will benefit.

Tim Jackson
Chief Kool-Aid Dispenser

Posted by Tim Jackson at 10:05 PM


  1. Blogger MG posted at 3:16 PM  
    Very well said Tim. The girlie ad thing is definitely not limited to KHS, but it's clear their brand deserves a more solid, cohesive and relevant marketing effort than it's gotten.

    Pac Rim companies in particular have often had challenges developing relevant marketing strategies and messages for the US and European markets.

    I think back to the hilarity with which we used to look through the back of MBA every month for the Taiwanese hub manufacturer that ran headlines like "The More Wonderful Than You Can Believe It." Clearly that was just a couple of guys with an English translation dictionary going at it. It saved them quite a bit of money I'm sure, but the return on investment certainly wasn't what it could have been with real messages written in clear English.

    With that in-mind, let's fast-forward 20 years. KHS executives see our media -- they see our insatiable appetite for sexy public figures, and our incredible obsession with achieving the "perfect" body. Just like it's virtually impossible for me to understand the nuances of Taiwanese culture, our friends at KHS probably didn't fully appreciate how sensitive we Americans have become to the objectification of women in marketing. The "sex sells" mantra that defined the 80s and early 90s is thankfully gone.

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