On Thursday, runners on social media were all atwitter about the new New Balance ad to the left, which New Balance has since abandoned. Many people were offended by it because they thought it excluded them or was divisive.
What exactly about this ad is offensive to the offended? The words appearing with the photo? Would it be ok if the runner in the photo was “squishy?” Is it the notion of “endeavor[ing] to beat other people”? What if that line was left out and it just said stuff about competition?
Contemplating this got me thinking about the “dirty” words of running. Words like:
competition ● athlete ● fast
Sometimes it feels like anyone who utters these words is an elitist, an excluder, an asshole. Can’t anyone compete? Can’t anyone be an athlete? Can’t anyone be fast? Why is it not ok to try to finish ahead of others and “beat” them in a race?
When the only major print publication dedicated to runners is all about beginners and losing weight, when it seems that pursuing personal excellence through competition, athleticism, or running fast makes you an elitist asshole, is there no place for brands to cater to competitive runners or to push runners to be more competitive? Or does this ad not even do that? Is this ad bitchy, divisive, or rude? If so, how can a brand push us towards excellence or cater to the competitive among us without being those things?
Tell us what you think! Was this New Balance ad out of line, misunderstood, or unduly attacked?