Monday, August 29, 2011

Athletic Companies, Are You Seeing Your Real Customers?

I'm finally realizing that I will never look like the women in the advertisements for running shoes or clothes.  No matter what, I'm not going to magically grow five inches taller, or become massively leaner and (haha) flat-chested.  Not to mention suddenly de-age 25 years.  No matter how much exercise I do, no matter how much weight I lose, it ain't gonna happen. 

Now, when I'm in the moment of a particular yoga pose, or I'm feeling the strength of my legs propel me through the water as I swim (or back when I conquered the box jump or blasted through a 6 mile run), I see myself as an athlete, but the truth is that I'm just a regular person, with figure flaws (still! losing over 100 pounds did not magically cure them!) that include-but-are-not-limited-to:  lumps, bumps, wrinkles and saggy skin.  And I'm realizing that there are a lot more of my types out there than there are of the types portrayed in the ads showing us what we should be buying to make our athletic experience better.

Maybe the companies - the ones whose products I and a lot of you buy, should consider changing tactics and feature more of the "every person" in their ads.  Dove did it a few years ago with their Real Women campaign.  Why not Skirt Sports, or Athleta, or Brooks, or the myriad of other athletic companies - why not feature real people using their products?  Because we do.  And I think it would be less intimidating, especially for those of us with Adult-Onset Athleticism, to purchase something from a model that looks like us.  These products aren't just for the high-performance athletes - they're for us mid-to-low-end users, too...and there's a lot of us out there.  While I'm realistic enough to know that using their product will not make me look like their model, it can, however, make my athletic experience a lot more enjoyable - and isn't that the goal?

What say you - would you rather see an ad featuring an everyday person using some sort of sporting equipment or clothes, or do you want the model illusion?

27 comments:

  1. I completely agree! I think Brooks needs to have a whole campaign featuring real people with plantar fasciitis! They'll sell a gagillion shoes :-)

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  2. "Adult-Onset Athleticism" - that's funny! I definitely agree with you. I remember feeling extremely intimidated the first time I walked into a running store - and sometimes still feel some of that intimidation. An image of an "athlete" has definitely been created and promoted and I think it's a shame that the "every person" isn't included.

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  3. Well, I'm probably cynical, but given the 'vanity factor' that is involved in so many's weight loss/exercise ventures, and the unrealistic expectations of so many, I'd venture to say that given the exact same product, most would still choose the clothing worn by the model illusion.

    Maybe I don't hang out with enough serious athletes. Because I agree with you that the longer I work out at the gym, the more I realize those 'perfect bodies' are in the vast minority, and there ARE serious athletes with normal bodies just like me. There. I said it--I have a normal body.

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  4. I love it too "adult onset athleticism!"

    I couldn't agree more Shelley. I am really surprised that more company didn't jump on the Dove bandwagon - I'd like to think that the model types are less than 5% of the population, which leaves the rest of the 95% of us not fitting in to that type.

    I hope you had a great weekend!

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  5. Studies show that "we" don't like to look at "us". Blah blah blah. Nobody asked me. I think you are absolutely right. They will never do it. Not when people are buying with the models they are using.

    Marketing!? I have been thinking about being a "Darrin Stephens". I can think up much better ads then what I see anywhere. Well, at least I think I can. Will you be my 1st model? You will be my real woman :)

    Good topic today. Stay cool!

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  6. Agree! Use average persons in your adds because that's what most people look like and can relate too.

    Dove did indeed have a great campaign a few years ago with their real women. More companies should have the balls to do that instead of using skinny girls that eat an apple and a piece of cucumber a day.

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  7. YES!!!SO TRUE!

    (I am also more apt to take a fitness class from someone that looks like me...I always think if they can do it, so can I!)

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  8. I dont mind models playing athletes as much as the sizes athletic wear comes in for men XXL and XXXL compared to what size it comes in for women... good luck finding a female shaped wetsuit over a size 12. Or competitive swimsuit in polyester for that matter. The shape of my swimsuit matters a lot so that it doesn't create drag when Im swimming intervals... ie like wearing cotton baggy shorts running compared to real running shorts or tights etc...

    It bugs me that female athlete over size 12...14 if it really is too tight isn't available from major reputable companies and the plus sized fare that emulates that stuff is not really for MOVEMENT.

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  9. I agree.....and I think it applies to all aspects of advertising in this day and age.....and I certainly think they should do away with air brushing too. It really gives children the wrong impression!

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  10. I'm not built like a runner, I don't look like a runner, people are always surprised that I run. But then, I go to road races and there are a lot more people there who look like me than those people in the advertising.

    And still, those companies would never use me to model for them. Because they want us to think that if we buy their stuff we'll look like those models. It's a shame, it really is.

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  11. I totally agree!! Those adds do nothing but foster low self-esteem. It's time that companies start becoming more responsible in this area.

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  12. I hear you and agree, but the fact remains is that the illusion (and delusion) of a sexy fit body sells - every time. Still, I think if done right, it'd be worth it for the sports industry to give it a try. It could encourage a whole segment of the population to see things differently and try their product.

    Werner
    http://www.natural-weightloss-blog.com/

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  13. Great post Shelley and I completly agree, I think that everyday people would sell more because we can all relate!

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  14. Very good point, Shelly. Could one underwear company keep making the same underwear that doesn't show under workout pants for more than 1 year? Once I find some kind I like, it gets phased out and I'm on the hunt again. I refuse to wear butt-floss thongs just because younger women like them. :D

    :) Marion

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  15. I agree!! I think the trend of airbrush-perfect people is a nasty problem when you are talking about photos or pictures (it's not really a photo anymore after the editors get through with it) that are supposed to be glorifying the strength and athleticism of the human body. I mean, sure there are some people who look something like that (I don't have the height or the strength, but I have flat chested DOWN!), but most people don't. Mix in some real people occasionally so I can be convinced your product will work for ME and I might just feel a stronger urge to buy it.

    Also, I am in love with "Adult-Onset Athleticism". That sounds like a fantastic blog name - get a bunch of bloggers together who got involved in a sport in later life (*ahem* running/swimming for you, rowing for me, etc) and post about their experience and their sport.

    It could also be a good team name for runners, etc. :)

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  16. Great post! No not great, EXCELLENT!
    I have no idea if they even know "we" exist. I have asked some of the skirt companies if I could try their products because 1) I am a larger girl and 2) None of the ladies focused on their website are larger. It's very frustrating.

    Here is a website I found a few weeks back. It's helped me a bit to put things in perspective www.mybodygallery.com I put in my height and weight and it pops up other women in your size who posted their pics.

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  17. I wouldn't mind seeing "regular" 40 something folks portrayed in ads like that. When I see people out exercising and they aren't in the best shape but are doing it, I want to yell out the window "Keep it up - you are doing awesome!"

    Great post Shelley!

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  18. I loved the Dove campaign with real women but I have to admit that I never purchased any of their products because of it. Realistic advertising might get your respect but not necessarily sales?

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  19. I don't really buy much of any product based on the models. It would be nice to see more real people modeling. I don't want to see how something looks on a tiny airbrushed person.

    I also want reviews by real people on products. Blogs are powerful that way.

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  20. Agree 100% Shelley. I think it's a shame that we are constantly bombarded by unattainable images when "real women" are even more gorgous!!! Let's start a movement! I'm in!!! :) Have a good week.

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  21. Because then they would have to offer real sizes!

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  22. AOA - Adult Onset Athleticism
    You are a nut.
    I think I told you that we, here in my town call Athelta "porn".
    The Asics girl is running on my bulletin board because she is so beautiful and fit. But, yeh, I'm with you...how about a couple of US on those catalogues.

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  23. ahhhhh I have many thoughts on this one.

    and none of em pretty.

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  24. I have the Fitness Fever, too.
    And I will never ever look like those models.
    I guess it's like anything else...
    Maybe a little worse in the world of athletes.
    What's a runner to do?
    Keep doing Box Jumps - that's what!

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  25. LOVE this post. I also love Adult Onset Athleticism! I'm so stealing that term!!! I wholeheartedly agree that real people should be targeted by these companies. They are missing out on a lot of business.

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  26. Attainable. That would be fabu in a role model. (Lol, my phone auto corrected fabu to Fabio. Not!)

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