I’ve always been so fascinated with brand power.
Not “brand” like Jen and I always joke about, but actual brand power- like Nike, North Face, Patagonia, or any other of the bazillions of brands that pop up in my daily life. What fascinates me is how people so often blindly and willingly buy from a brand without any real indication that they will benefit from choosing one brand over another. Is it peer pressure, a constant bombardment of images and media, or the need to be included, and to feel apart of something, that encourages us to associate ourselves with a brand? I think it is…
In running, I’ve seen it show up time and time again. A new product pops up, and if its marketed well, and key runners or elite athletes get behind it–man it doesn’t matter what the frick that product is, because by gawd, people will buy it.
I’ve joked about this crazy phenomena with my friends for sometime. I think at one point, I even said people will buy dog crap if its branded as “excellent running fuel” by the right people.
Don’t believe me? HA. Well listen to this:
So not long ago while I was writing something bogus and ridiculous on twitter to Amber..of course.. we started tweeting about how we use candy as long run fuel. I joked that I refuse to spend hundreds of dollars on “supremely crafted energy beans” that are made out of what….sugar.
Somehow the conversation continued with me tweeting this:
“I think I’ll just start eating packs of sugar. It’s cheaper. In fact, I should sell them to others branded as run fuel.”
Then I tweeted this number, “I should sell it at Whole Foods & market it as vegan friendly, non GMO, cruelty free, gluten free & eco happiness friendly.”
Oh..and this… “I will pour 5lbs of walmart sugar into little plastic test tubes aka recyclable running containers”
All the while Amber is feeding me on with her HAHAHA’s and witty marketing campaigns. She said we should call it “AA Sugar” representing our (real) AA Adventures Company. And that we should find other athletes who fuel themselves with sugar.
So the hashtag #AAsugar was born.
Eventually I wrote one last tweet, the tweet heard ’round the running world, and what followed was an absolute, glorious, amazing branding success and mess…..
“#AASugar is looking for semi decent looking people who are kind of talented to be the new faces of an new epic running energy fuel. RT!”
BAM. 10 Retweets (RT) almost instantly. Despite my entire conversation that played out literally right before that tweet, and the obvious proof that no such product or company existed, my twitter account started blowing up with new followers and hopefuls wanting to represent #AASugar.
Oh..my..gosh..freakin hilarious! I quickly called Amber and Jen to tell them that we now had an amazing social experiment on our hands- how far could we take this thing? Pretty dang far…
Tweets started coming in left and right with people from all over telling me that they were “the perfect athlete to represent #AASugar”. I had some telling me that they love AAsugar and have used it to fuel their long runs and won races with it. I had some “fitness experts” saying they’d be happy to brand my product “for a price” hahaha. It got better and better with each tweet.
Amber, Jen, and Dan and I started tweeting about #AASugar like it was legit, and Jen even went as far as to say that she was #FueledByAASugar for her upcoming 508 mile cycling race.
People got all crazy over that, and some guys said they would send me videos showing their potential to work for #AASugar.
At one point I tweeted out: “What’s your favorite flavor of #AAsugar running fuel?” And people started tweeting out their responses like they actually existed!!! “strawberry!” “raspberry” “chocolate” — Holy crap. Haha.
No website to back up these claims.
No talk of flavors or use.
No anything… Just one freakin tweet.
My direct message box was completely full with request from even people that know me wanting to get involved with my “new product”.
I laughed with Jen, Amber, and Dan for at least 10 hours. At least!!!
Do people really not even care to research a product before they’d be willing to put their name on it?? The “free stuff” mentality is running rampant in the endurance world. A company can send you a freakin’ sample of their product for free, tell you you’re an “ambassador” for their brand, and you will go all nuts trying to pimp them out on social media and at your races and stuff. It’s crazy when you think about it. It’s good marketing, but they’re preying on the fact that you’ll basically do something for nothing. If you actually do love and use a product someone sends you, then more power to ya. Just gotta be careful you’re not being a blind sheep while attempting to associate with a powerful brand.
A good company/ambassador relationship will provide you with an ample supply of quality product. In return, they will expect you to use their products and mention them on social media. Other companies will straight up pay you for your blogging and social media advertising.
The truth is, being an endurance athlete, you’re success does not genuinely lie in the shoes on your feet, the clothes on your body, or the accessories you sport. It doesn’t lie in the races you do, or the companies you associate with. Endurance comes down to this: YOUR BRAIN. YOUR BODY. Sure, everything else HELPS, but your success is YOUR success.
So no, #AAsugar doesn’t exist. We aren’t sponsoring any epic ultra slamming athletes, nor do we sponsor “semi decent looking people who are kind of athletic”. Of course I ended the tweets about our wonder product before it got out of control. But man, I guaran-freakin-tee you that I could have sold non existing packets of #AASugar to throngs of runners–that is if it wasn’t blatantly wrong and punishable by years rotting behind bars, ha.
So before you turn into someone’s walking billboard, make sure there is something in it for YOU, that you respect the company, ..and if all else fails, at least make sure that your brand does indeed manufacture a real product.
(This post was #FueledByAASugar, thanks for reading.;))
What are your thoughts on brand power in endurance sports? Have any similar stories to share? Post your thoughts below!