/ Climb Like a Girl - Part 4
In this 4th part of Climb Like A Girl, Mick Ryan focuses on a single controversial advertising campaign by the US outdoor clothing retailer Blurr and looks at how this campaign was received.
Read the article here - http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=114
> In this 4th part of Climb Like A Girl, Mick Ryan focuses on a single controversial advertising campaign by the US outdoor clothing retailer Blurr...
So which one is it?
I like the Obi one and the jason Kehil one but the others are very lame - much like the awful red chili ads.
Only when people like Mick bring it to the attention of a forum where a whole lot of people would only know Blurr as a miss-spelling of the band that sang Parklife back in the day.
And I think you may have missed the point ever so slightly - marketing and advertising is all about just that, getting the name of the company out there and building its profile so that people like you write about it and people like Gus get a nice big bonus for having done his job to the best of his ability. Ads are there to provoke reaction and it wouldn't matter whether it was the united colours of "Oh my God, would you look at that outrageous billboard" or Blurr, the shock factor is intended, contrived and in this case, has only the most tenuous links to climbing.
The fact that it's a climbing company has bnothing to do with it either, I'd say that they were definitely trying to appeal to the basest instincts of all climbers and lets face it, climbers as a breed are no different to anyone else, sex features highly prominantly in their thoughts and lives.
Sex sells and ads that look like a photo from GQ aer not made any better just because they have a climber's name on them. Strip them of that strapline and they couild fit in the clothing section of any generic men's fashion/lifestyle magazine.
I will continue this a bit later as I have a meeting now but there will definitely be more...
And to continue:
FFS Mick, it's only a few ads. There are plenty of ads on tv, in magazines and on billboards. You can't escape them and admittedly, most of them are terrible but still... In the context of general climbing advertising these ads are a bit shocking but in reality and when put up against the UCofB billboard ads and the Lynx deodorant ads (to name but two examples off the top of my head), they are neither sexist, demeaning to women or shocking. They look like Burberry ads with a bit more naked flesh and less tweed.
As climbing ads go, yes they are a bit risque but really these sorts of ads have already found their way into climbing mags, particularly for clothing and this is just the next logical step in order to stand out from the crowd. There's not many print ads around that don't have some hot totty wearing something skimpy and holding a piece of gear or a rope in a suggestive manner.
Basically, it's not new, it's not cutting edge and it's not really of interest to climbers as it has nothing to do with climbing, it's just an indication of climbing's move into the mainstream, something that's been happening for years. Your article is an analysis of a very small number of print ads and their alleged shocking content. There are ruder and more suggestive ads on tv before the watershed and in teeny bopper magazines, not to mention in the papers, on websites and on billboards everywhere. And there have been for years.
Just out of interest, this is a UK-based climbing forum and while I admit there are a lot of non-UK-based regular posters (such as myself), it nevertheless isn't a US-based or even US-centric site so, why is a 5 part article about women climbers going to be of major interest when it's all about US climbers and US places that most RT posters will never really identify with or visit? I'm not saying it isn't well written because in a lot of places it is but it's totally US-centric and therefore, of real interest to very few people.
Not criticising really Mick...well maybe just a bit...and at least I put some real thought into what I didn't like about the content of the article as opposed to just slagging you off. Put it this way, i've read the whole series so far and haven't laughed very much or even been that interested but I will definitely read the last piece and see if that can change my mind. Even at your worst though, it's better that JCT's article and i'm sure that's all you care about at the end of the day.
Brilliant. I liked 1 and 2, 3 was great, but 4 is just brilliant. To slip into ancient language that'll likely be rather opaque to the political ingenues of RT, I'm so used to men either being unreconstructed (political ingenues, that means what you'd think of as normal bloke) or reconstructed (that means, if we're honest, men who, for example, like porn as much as any other bloke but have rubbed up against enough feminists to feel guilty about liking it and wouldn't dare admit to liking it any more), and Mick cuts right through that dichotomy of unimaginativeness v hypocrisy and appreciates the flux/tension/ambiguity and sheer emotional confusion that marketing images of females can engender. Nice one.
Ooh, now you've gone and raised my expectations for 5.
ps Don't anyone waste words replying to me per se because I'm just adding my thoughts, I'll not be reading the rest of teh thread though I'm sure it'll be v interesting.
>when put up against the UCofB billboard ads and the Lynx >deodorant ads (to name but two examples off the top of my >head), they are neither sexist, demeaning to women or
Technically, the existence of ruder & more suggestive ads in mainstream media doesn't make Blurr ads NON-sexist. It makes them less in-your-face expressions of sexism.
> Technically, the existence of ruder & more suggestive ads in mainstream media doesn't make Blurr ads NON-sexist. It makes them less in-your-face expressions of sexism.
You're right, point conceeded.
Well the issues that the articles deal with are not really US-only issues. The places it deals with are largely irrelevant and the US people it introduces may well be of interest to those who wish to know a little bit more about world climbing.
As to being "of real interest to very few people"; this article has prompted more discussion than any article we have ever had by miles. People feel strongly about the issues, and it has prompted people, either side of the Atlantic, to think about the issues.
Fair enough, although I guess I feel like Mick is coming at it from a purely US-centric focus (almost entirely, i'm not saying he's completely ignorant of the UK/european side of things) and that suggests to me that what he has written is not as balanced an article as it could have been.
I think also that while the article is good, there's an awful lot of name dropping for name-dropping's sake.
Don't get me wrong, i'm not criticising just simply because I don't like Mick (as a lot of people did to JCT which I thought was grossly unfair) because I do like him. He and I have had some great conversations after the last couple of years and I respect his enormously as both a writer and a climber but I think this article is not as strong as it's been made out to be and I'm just putting my opinion on the matter forward, because I know Mick wants to read people's real feelings on the work he's put a lot of time into.
Whose name did I drop?
If I could calm down enough to reply to "Mother Sheep", I would. GrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR........
And people complain about the level of debate on here! Quality.
This kind of thing makes me cringe. It's like a double-irony. Climbing seems destined to be eternally *uncool* so long as 'marketing whizzes' like Gus Alexandropoulos trot out this kind of fluff. You can't just copy skateboarding adverts 20 years on and call yourself original. Yawn.
Climbing has it's own vibe, that trickles down from the hardcore scene. It is 'dirtbag' FFS (well it certainly is here in the UK!) and Blurr won't change that, just cos they're trying to develop the market and sell more tank tops! If you wanna be cool and sexy, go surfing!
My 2p (or has it gone up these days?), I've read all the articles and the subject's interesting and thought provoking, personally I think they're well written, I just wonder if it's worth 5 seperate parts when stacked against the other topics and the number of articles on UKC? At this rate it'll be say 10% of the article space on UKC by the end of the year. For me a couple would have done, and the something bout actually going climbing :)
All just IMHO.
Articles have not been our strong point until now. However we have already produced more articles this year than any previous year in total. We are now producing them at a rate of 1 per week and Mick's series has been a great spring board in this respect. It is our intention to continue them at a rate of 1/week from now on (although I anticipate things will slow down over August when many of us are away).
This will mean that indeed Mick's CLAG articles are around 10% of the yearly coverage but considering our record over previous year's, they would have been around 33%.
On the excuses front - UKC runs on a very small budget. We don't have much money for articles and all involved with it have 'other jobs'.
On the future plans front - we will be taking on a more-dedicated article editor and we are very keen for people to submit their articles. We do pay for anything used.
slight hijack but on a similar vein, would you ever consider running a competition for articles or short stories (for instance)? I guess it's all more administration for you, but even so...
Climbing is way cool and sexy Tom, you are right it doesn't need Gus to make it so, as it already is. I am talking from more a US perspective, but like it or not, climbing is now mainstream.....not just a bit of edge for the X-games or to make Outside mag look authentic. Two episodes recently have reinforced this view, both climbing wall related. Many of the parents of my son's friends want their kids to get into climbing - from wanting me to escort them to the wall, to daytrips to the Gunks. Second my wife works in a local hospital, she has a friend there who is a climber in the old sense, but there are over ten collegues there who call themselves climbers - they climb at the gym and plan to climb outside.
Apparantly the number of desperate housewives in Boulder who prefer to work out at the climbing gym rather than the aerobics gym is quite high, so an informed source tells me. They are climbers too, yes?
> They are climbers too, yes?
From a marketeers point of view, maybe.
But they don't define the 'image' or 'vibe' of climbing, which is still dirtbag in essence. Yes, we have loads more wall climbers in the UK now who don't climb outside. We even have a Virgin climbing-themed mainstream gym in Sheffield. But what irks me is that some wannabe clothing brand thinks they can change the culture with a series of clever-clever adverts. But at least it's a few bucks in the pockets of the wannabe boulderer-pimps, posing for the camera :-)
[An aside - it peeved me off that Patagonia evidently dropped the 'Committed to Dirtbag Culture' tag as, I suspect, they were worried about alienating a large part of the market, who wear outdoor clothes for fashion. I thought Patagonia were well-cool for using that strapline.]
Well we did this once and judging them all was a right nightmare and the standard in all but a few wasn't very high. This was also in the days when there was no budget to pay. There seems little point in actually running a comp now that we pay.
Though if we are talking at a purely superficial level, 'dirtbag' is also a brand that is definable and exploitable. There was an article/ photojournalist piece in Alpinist 10 (I think ...) 'Dumpster Diaries' full of pictures of cute bohemian californian kids at Joshua Tree and Indian Creek, living off discarded food from supermarket rubbish bins, that I thought encapsulated that. Slap a Patagonia logo under any of those photos and you'd have an instant 'authentic' advert.
> Though if we are talking at a purely superficial level, 'dirtbag' is also a brand that is definable and exploitable. There was an article/ photojournalist piece in Alpinist 10 (I think ...) 'Dumpster Diaries' full of pictures of cute bohemian californian kids at Joshua Tree and Indian Creek, living off discarded food from supermarket rubbish bins, that I thought encapsulated that. Slap a Patagonia logo under any of those photos and you'd have an instant 'authentic' advert.
Think the word on the street with that one was the motivation behind the article had more to do with the editor fancying (allegedly) the author. ah hem. But yeah, I get your point. Still, it's true - the vast majority of hardcore climbers in the UK who choose climbing as a lifestyle, choose to scrub it so that they can get out on the rock more.
okay, fair enough... just a thought :-)
I noticed there were already as many articles so far this year as all last year, and was really just trying to say that sometimes more is less and personally I reckon a 2 or 3 parter would have worked for the subject, partly so you could still remember what was in the first one when you're reading the 5th (my memory's not what it was,m and it was chees to start with). I like it anyway, and the fact that you're willing to build it up gradually and make sure it's not just "what I did on my holiays" stuff sounds good to me. Nice to hear that there's more on the way, wish I could write, but you can't be good at everything ;)
That I had not heard but there was a guy from that group who I met in Siurana in January who complained that after the article some of the more desirable wholefood supermarkets in SoCal had started locking their dumpsters ...
Anyway, alarmingly I see that 'Blurr' have tackled this very topic head on: http://www.blurrstuff.com/start_swf.html
It wasn't so long ago that if you wanted to be a 'real' climber you had to live in some remote mountain campground ... dumpster diving for your lunch was in vogue ... luckily somewhere along the line most folks wised up and realized here is a lot to be said for regular bathing, clean sheets ... The notion of living in the dirt was no longer appealing and we understood that we could ... travel to get our "outdoor" fix and still be back in time for dinner and drinks.
> What a bunch of tw*ts - thank god they're in America.
My bigoted world view liked the Canadians. :o(
It's OK - you can just abuse Endless Winter if you are upset with Canadians :-)
Great article mate I really enjoyed it. The "age compression" phenomenon is very worrying - glad I'm not in the US where it's so bad. For the big companies it's all about maximising the size of the market - once you have saturated the adult market this is the next logical step in order to maintain growth.
Wondering if you've seen the Canadian documentary 'The Corporation' - would highly recommend it if you haven't.
No I haven't seen it. I'll get it from the video store.
You misread me sir. I like Canadians. I dislike Blurr. I was disappointed that they were Canadian as I feel they lower the tone of your great nation.
I thought the opening blurb was a bit rubbish - for me the terms 'urban' and 'climber' seem like an odd juxtaposition - but there's a really nice green hoody on the site... I guess there's definitely a market for crossover clothes, as there are already loads of people wearing (for instance) north face duvets round town, etc, and if skate culture can cross over...
Read the stuff that toby linked to before. It makes me cringe!!
Prana is also drivel, but it is my type of drivel. ;o)
Yep - I own a pair of Blurr climbing trousers, as does TRNovice.
Someone told me that the woman who designed my trousers used to work for Arcíteryx. I would believe it as they are a good design.
Iím never one to care much about advertising.
Anyone else noticed the inconsistency between Blurr's unashamed urban-climber-ethos and some of the web biogs for their sponsored heroes? Take Jason Kehl for instance, probably the best known of the Blurr 'b_unit team':
[where's your] Home:
Maryland or my van ...
Hey Andy, slightly off topic .. actually this thread is miles off topic ... but ... are Canadians typically good at irony? I have always assumed 'yes' but recent expat encounters out here in camel-land suggest 'no'?
That's worrying. They didn't mention that when I got the passport. I might need to check into some kind of saying-what-you-mean clinic for a few months before I move to BC.
I cannot for the life of me understand why UKC would run part 4. Each of the pieces reads as a stand alone, and this section of text is as far as I can see irrelevant. To quote random 20 year olds is really a bit crap. To end an article with a series of open questions that you have not attempted to answer in the previous text is just sloppy.
PS I think you missed the point of the Lisa Dumper ad, the sex in the ad was entirely from the Ducati, far more exciting than yet another two lasses getting it on. No sarcasm intended.
Finally! Someone else who can see this article as the big pile of non climbing-related tosh that it is.
I was at a bit of a loss why Mick didn't just submit this straight to Saatchi and Saatchi.
No wonder you're known as LGD... I'm afraid the idea of two women getting it on is far sexier than any motorbike.
You mean the Blurr ads? Yes that's what I thought too and it was the first question I asked Blurr.
The increasing urbanisation and trendiness of climbing, and its increasing popularity also poses lots of other questions as well. The most important is imapact and erosion where the majority of climbers climb, that would be outside.
In fact Mr. Horscroft is organizing an "event" for those concerned about what to do with this "challenge".
> Finally! Someone else who can see this article as the big pile of non climbing-related tosh that it is.
Settle down Matt you hot-headed youth. Climbing is getting more popular, that's not in dispute. Many people are now climbing that don't have the same values as those who started say 15 years ago. The way people start is changing. Hence the use of mainstream imagery (the urban aesthetic) both in advertisements and editorially, Blurr is one example, Rock and Ice is another, Outside mag is yet another. Some of these images use women, to sell, not a new concept in the climbing world but an increasinging one.
More people climbing and changing values will change climbing, how it 'feels' to you and how you experience it, and maybe on your freedom to climb outside.
Do you think these are important issues?
What I wrote in CLAG4 touches on some of these issues. I even posed a question at the end.
"Does this type of marketing, and maybe exploitation, have a place in your climbing world, a climbing world which for many is distraction from the toxic waste dump of tabloid and cable news, a relief from the inescapable noise of intrusive and saturated marketing, and yes, an escape from the trials and tribulations of every day 21st century life?"
I could have added not just marketing, the use of women to sell, but also, more people at the crag, more access issues, climbers with different climbing values than you (like those bloody top ropers, dry toolers, darn boulderers and damn sport climbers, those annoying school groups)
Intresting you mention Saatchi and Saatchi, I'm a big fan of Nigella....in fact I have all her books. The photos are great, but the recipes are too die for.
> Many people are now climbing that don't have the same values as those who started say 15 years ago. The way people start is changing. Hence the use of mainstream imagery (the urban aesthetic) both in advertisements and editorially, Blurr is one example, Rock and Ice is another, Outside mag is yet another. Some of these images use women, to sell, not a new concept in the climbing world but an increasinging one.
And your point? Considering that this is a series of articles about, and I quote; "women in climbing". Not "how women are climbing compared to 15 years ago" and not "women in climbing advertising" but "women in climbing".
I'm not disagreeing with any of your statements above btw, just the validity of devoting an entire article to discussing the effects of totty (both male and female) on the climber's psyche, the advertiser's pocket and one clothing company's balance sheet.
Absolutely true and had you touched on any of these issues in the article or even expanded on how climbing entering the mainstream has made it less of an 'out there' thing to do, especially for women, i might have been less judgemental. But you didn't, in your 4th instalment of your series of articles billed as "Mick takes a look at the position of women in climbing today" you talked exclusively about a bunch of ads, only one of which featured a female climber and all for a clothing line that doesn't really aim itself at climbers anyway.
Absolutely and I hope that in the future yuo write an article discussing them in depth. Seriously.
> I could have added not just marketing, the use of women to sell, but also, more people at the crag, more access issues, climbers with different climbing values than you (like those bloody top ropers, dry toolers, darn boulderers and damn sport climbers, those annoying school groups)
Yes you could have but it still wouldn't have been in the vein of how the original article series was marketed. I think that all these are extremely important issues but still, in the context of talking about women in climbing, they're not so relevant.
And their ad campaigns are often contrived and are getting a massive amount of bad press over here (all to do with not encouraging kiddies to have cell phones but S&S using kiddies exclusively in ads for the major cellphone supplier here in NZ)...
I'd just like to finish by saying that I really do think you're a good writer Mick, but in this case while the article was interesting, it wasn't particularly thought provoking in terms of women in climbing and it really did (IMHO) miss the point by quite a long way. Stick to the subject because lets face it, you've been around forever ;) and yuo nkow a lot of women climbers and they've all got stories to tell, so tell them. I am looking forward to part 5 btw. And all the subsequent articles visiting all the points you brought up in your previous post.
Hey Mick, I'm enjoying your articles. Looking forward to the next one ...
BTW: Vagina or Virginia? Typo or Freudian slip?
Bloody hell Matt, you can write.
You really do belong over here, where I just flamed John Long....and quite deftly too.
when i saw "climb like a girl" i foolishly thought that it was an article on the different technique used by women that could be used to help those reliant on strength to climb
Hmmm, i'm still trying to work out whether that's a compliment or you just taking the piss. I think i'll be a 'glass half full' type of guy today...so thanks for compliment.
Yep, that was quite a nice one. I liked the ying/yang analogy, very nicely put. I'm not sure I could cope with the blatent stupidity that is rife on that forum though, i'd just end up ranting at the dumb Americans.
>I could cope with the blatent stupidity that is rife on that forum though, i'd just end up ranting at the dumb Americans.
Doesn't stop you ranting at dumb Brits?
> Doesn't stop you ranting at dumb Brits?
Look, I like ranting, ok!
When's part 5 out btw?
Instead I found a rant, making issues about things which really don't apply in 99% of cases. I mean I don't see my female climbing partners as sex objects, I respect them as equals (and betters).
FFS Mick, couldn't you find better things to write about than an outdated US centric rant? Like what I suggested before - a female approach to climbs. Oh wait that would involved some new research, rather than trotting out old cliches, and recyling material which has been used many times before. Silly me!!!
Issues like how the womens movement helped more women get into sports, including climbing.
Bravo, but there again, don't we all?
but your missing our point mick "climb like a girl" did your artical give us any insite to the technique used by women? no
did it offer us any idea as to why women climb the way they do? no
> but your missing our point mick "climb like a girl" did your artical give us any insite to the technique used by women? no
> did it offer us any idea as to why women climb the way they do? no
Elsewhere on the site
This years ROCfest will be slightly different. We've decided to run a Climbing Festival, not just a competition! Over... Read more
On Saturday 13th December Greg Boswell and Guy Robertson kicked off their Scottish winter season early by making the... Read more
The Epicentre Mega Winter Sale starts in store 9am Christmas Eve. We have a great selection of in store only deals from... Read more
At a bar in Llanberis an old man chimed in And I thought he was out of his head Being a young man I just laughed it off When... Read more
F ounded in 1993, Mountain Hardwear are a pretty young mountaineering clothing and equipment manufacturer but are also one of... Read more