What’s the matter here?


Burton LoveThe title of this post doesn’t much relate to the topic I have in mind, but I really like that 10,000 Maniacs song. Anyway, my topic is an issue that is currently percolating in the winter resort/snowboard community. To point, Burton created graphics for two of their current snowboard lines that some consider ‘controversial’. Their Love and Primo lines have graphics that feature suggestively, scantily clad Playboy models and line drawings of self-mutilation. I’m not attracted to either of the graphics personally and while I’m not personally offended by either set of graphics I wouldn’t spend over $400 for them either. Neither am I concerned by the fact that young teenage boys might get their hands on these boards, because I think that it’s a parents’ responsibility to manage what their children buy and possess. The  issue I do have is if employees of a resort are using these boards while on the job which to me is a simple case of employee standards and conduct.

To sum up, I think this is a case where a large corporate company is attempting to create shock value in order to try to stay ‘core’ in their industry. This is a tough line to walk in the action sports industry where many companies have enjoyed great success only to crash just as quickly because their customers decided that their products were no longer ‘cool’. Burton knows how the game works and have been on top for a long time – I don’t think there’s any reason to think they’re going anywhere now.

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4 responses to “What’s the matter here?

  1. Great post Eric. Burton has build a brand that thrives on “outlaw”. As snowboarding has enjoyed its mainstream success they have to continue to find ways to get their brand in the dialog of “outlaw” controversy. Just like they did with their “Power to the Poachers” PR campaign of last season, once again they prove they can stir it up and keep their brand alive and in the context that drives their customer’s affinity.

  2. The Pepsi/Suicide ad smacks more of product positioning and awareness than brand positioning. I’m pretty certain Pepsi isn’t trying to associate suicide with its brand. That would, well…be suicide!

    Burton, however, is quite efficient at (like you said), “ride(ing) the outlaw image” quite effectively. Pun intended.

    Pepsi + Suicide = Bad branding
    Burton + Outlaw = Good branding

    • Thanks for your thoughts on this David!
      I also think that there is a marked difference between the two campaigns and I have to say that I was impressed with the way that Pepsi handled the reaction to their controversial ad, they were quick, decisive and responsive.

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