I’ve always been so fascinated with brand power.
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 is it the need to be included, and to feel apart of something that encourages us to associate ourselves with a specific brand? I think it is all of that…
In running, I’ve seen it show up time and time again. A new product pops up, and if it is marketed well, and key runners or elite athletes get behind it–man it doesn’t matter what that product is– because by gosh, people will buy it.
I’ve joked about this crazy phenomena with my friends for some time. I think at one point, I even said people will buy dog crap if it is branded as “excellent running fuel” by the right people.
Don’t believe me? HA. Well listen to this:
Twitter is my social media playground. Not long ago, while I was writing something bogus and ridiculous to my friend and fellow Twitter junkie, @AdventureAmber..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. Bam. 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 suggested that we should find other athletes who fuel themselves with sugar.
So the hashtag #AAsugar was born.
Eventually it all came to a head, and I wrote one last tweet. It was 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 faces of a new epic running energy fuel. RT!”
BAM. 10 Retweets (RT) almost instantly. Despite the 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..freaking hilarious! I quickly called my best friends, 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! …What?!!… 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, Dan and I started tweeting about #AASugar like it was legit. Jen, a pro triathlete, even went as far as to say that she was #FueledByAASugar for her upcoming 508 mile cycling race. People got all crazy over that one.
Some guys said they would even send me videos showing their potential to work for #AASugar…..WOW.
At one point I tweeted out: “What’s your favorite flavor of #AAsugar running fuel?” And lo and behold, these people started tweeting out responses like they actually existed! “Strawberry!” “Raspberry” ” I loooove the chocolate” — Holy crap. Haha.
No website to back up these claims.
No talk of flavors or use.
No anything… Just one freaking tweet.
My direct message box was completely full with request from even people that know me wanting to get involved with my “revolutionary 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 small sample of their product for free, tell you you’re an “ambassador” for their brand, and you will go 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 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 occasionally mention them on social media. Other companies will straight up pay you for your blogging and social media advertising if you’ve got an established media platform or popular blog.
The truth is this: Your success as an endurance athlete does not genuinely depend on the shoes on your feet, the clothes on your body, or the accessories you sport. It doesn’t come from 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, and that you know and respect the company……. and if all else fails, at least make sure that your brand does indeed exist, and 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? I love hearing from you guys on Twitter, IG & email, but I appreciate comments & conversation here most!! Post your thoughts below! Thanks!~Ash