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Pinkbike Podcast Episode 54 - Best & Worst MTB Product Marketing

Mar 25, 2021
by Mike Kazimer  
Pinkbike Podcast
Art by Taj Mihelich

Mountain bike marketing is a balancing act, and companies are constantly trying to find the recipe that will attract the attention of savvy riders in a positive way. Those efforts don't always turn out as planned, and in this week's episode we delve into the hits and misses that we've seen over the years.

Brian Park and Sarah Moore have both spent time in marketing departments, and James Smurthwaite has probably watched more mountain bike advertisements than anyone on the planet, so there was no shortage of good and bad examples to pull from. Remember when RockShox made it seem like you'd need a pro license to purchase a Vivid Air shock? Or when Giant released a whitepaper extolling the virtues of 27.5" wheels? We do.

You can check out this list of 20 standout bike launch edits, or watch these 10 weird marketing videos for some, umm, unique examples of past marketing campaigns.

March 17th, 2021

From compelling to cringy, we go over some of the MTB marketing hits and misses over the years.

Featuring a rotating cast of the editorial team and other guests, the Pinkbike podcast is a weekly update on all the latest stories from around the world of mountain biking, as well as some frank discussion about tech, racing, and everything in between.

Previous Pinkbike Podcasts
Episode 1 - Why Are Bikes So Expensive?
Episode 2 - Where the Hell is the Grim Donut?
Episode 3 - Pond Beaver Tech
Episode 4 - Why is Every Bike a Trail Bike?
Episode 5 - Can You Trust Bike Reviews?
Episode 6 - Over Biked Or Under Biked?
Episode 7 - Wild Project Bikes
Episode 8 - Do We Need an Even Larger Wheel Size?
Episode 9 - Why Are We Doing a Cross-Country Field Test?
Episode 10 - Getting Nerdy About Bike Setup
Episode 11 - Are We Going Racing This Year?
Episode 12 - What's the Future of Bike Shops?
Episode 13 - Are Bikes Too Regular Now?
Episode 14 - What Bikes Would Pinkbike Editors Buy?
Episode 15 - What's Holding Mountain Biking Back?
Episode 16 - Who's Your Mountain Biking Hero?
Episode 17 - XC Field Test Insider
Episode 18 - Electronics on your Mountain Bike: Good or Bad?
Episode 19 - The Hardtail Episode
Episode 20 - MTB Conspiracy Theories
Episode 21 - Stuff We Were Wrong About
Episode 22 - Does Your Riding Style Match Your Personality?
Episode 23 - Grim Donut 2 is Live!
Episode 24 - Why Even Buy a DH Bike?
Episode 25 - Fall Field Test Preview
Episode 26 - The Three Most Important Mountain Bikes
Episode 27 - The World Champs Special
Episode 28 - All About Women's Bikes
Episode 29 - Freeride or Die
Episode 30 - Would You Rather?
Episode 31 - Wet Weather Riding Tips & Tricks
Episode 32 - What Needs to Change in the Bike Industry?
Episode 33 - Behind the Scenes at Pinkbike Academy
Episode 34 - Grilling Levy About Field Test Trail Bikes (and His Bonspiel)
Episode 35 - Story Time - Stranger Than Fiction
Episode 36 - Grilling Kazimer about Field Test Enduro Bikes
Episode 37 - The 2020 Privateer Season with Ben Cathro
Episode 38 - Editors Defend Their 2020 Best-Of Picks
Episode 39 - Predicting the Future of Mountain Biking
Episode 40 - The Pinkbike Awards!
Episode 41 - Racing Rumours and Team Changes
Episode 42 - Mountain Biking's Guilty Pleasures
Episode 43 - Dangerholm's Wildest Custom Mountain Bikes
Episode 44 - Mountain Bike Suspension Decoded
Episode 45 - What Makes a Good Riding Buddy
Episode 46 - The RockShox Zeb vs Fox 38 Deep Dive
Episode 47 - High Pivot Bikes: The Good, The Bad, and The Why?
Episode 48 - Rides That Went Horribly Wrong... & Why That Made Them So Good
Episode 49 - What's the Best DH Bike?
Episode 50 - Are Bikes Actually Getting Less Expensive? (Value Bike Field Test Preview)
Episode 51 - Should MTB Media Post Spy Shots?
Episode 52 - Our Most Embarrassing MTB Moments
Episode 53 - Should Climbers Still Have the Right of Way?

Author Info:
mikekazimer avatar

Member since Feb 1, 2009
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  • 52 3
 I would say the worst type of marketing is Your social media manager or whomever has the passwords making a fool of themselves and the brand in the comments section on pinkbike.
  • 40 2
 Truth be ToLD, that was a hilarious trainwreck.
  • 5 2
 @codfather1234: What article did this happen on I need to see this haha
  • 6 2
 @mtbforlife4: TLD helmet last week. Couldn't believe what I was seeing
  • 7 2
 @mtbforlife4: TLD A3 launch article. The TLD account had multiple hidden replies due to neg props
  • 18 2
 Legit, because of that situation I'll probably never buy TLD product again
  • 9 3
 @kookseverywhere: I had considered buying something from TLD prior to my friends negative reviews of helmet fit/quality and then reading that article and their horrible responses. It was like watching an adolescent American shirk accountability for their actions continuously, even though the evidence was LITERALLY written on the wall.
  • 7 10
 @codfather1234: The only thing he did wrong was respond. Even the shit he said that was run of the mill information sharing got neg propped. Pinkbike is a soft crowd.
  • 10 0
 @chriskneeland: I agree there are a bunch of softies in this current era. However, when a company blatantly says a reviewer of a product is wrong, OR says the reviewer obviously doesn’t like a company/its products, where @mikekazimer did a fantastic job of being unbiased. It’s pretty obvious it was a catastrophic fail. Not sure how much of that thread you read through. TLD dug them selves into a trench and did not do them selves any favors. I even received a formal apology from TLD last night due to their handling of the matter. If you don’t want an objective review of a product. Don’t release it.
  • 2 0
 @RBalicious: Honestly that "formal" apology was pretty strange too. Just listed a bunch of excuses and didn't really apologize, also in a weirdly informal tone for an official communication from a company.
  • 2 0
 @kookseverywhere: agreed, I should have and meant to put quotations around formal. Either way, if I company is going to get that pissy about an unbiased review, as well as a bunch of unsolicited consumer insight. They do not deserve my hard earned moneys.
  • 3 0
 @RBalicious: Exactly, that review wasn't even negative. If that's the way they handle things I shutter to think how they would respond if I had an issue with a product I purchased. Plenty of great apparel/protection brands out there, there is no need for me to risk being treated like that.
  • 2 5
 @RBalicious: It was a subjective review. He took issue with it. I agree, more people should review it other than just Kaz if PB really wants to be objective. If they used a different mold as he states, and Kaz incorrectly says he thinks it is the same fit as the A2, then ya, I don't blame him for trying to correct misinformation. And it sounds like there's a history between the two.
  • 2 0
 @chriskneeland: TLD is that you?! Either that or a brand loyalist...
Ok, I relent. I made a mistake and used objective, where subjective would be more appropriate. I think you should take the time to go back and re-read the review & comments and then you may get a better sense of where this is coming from. I stand by my statement of TLD acted like adolescent Americans shirking accountability for their actions. It even bled through in the “apology” email they sent me. If a company is going to act like that if they get less than stellar perfect review after an ad campaign saying “you will never want to take it off,” it is a company that is driven by ego and does not deserve my business. That is all.
  • 1 4
 @RBalicious: Actually, I think that A series helmet looks like ass. And literally just went back and read what I missed the first time I read the article after someone said sit back and enjoy the comment section. All I saw was a bunch of pinkers sounding like clowns. All the dude was trying to get across is they used a different fit system than the previous model which the review whiffed on, and people should try them out for themselves instead. Again, the only mistake was responding to the clowns in the comment section.
  • 11 1
 @chriskneeland: there’s no history, we like TLD and Kaz has generally been a fan of their stuff. Kaz’s review was very objective, he said it fits SIMILARLY to the A2, and was clear that while the shape wasn’t quite right for him it might be for others.

Honestly I think some brands just get so used to over-the-top, gushing reviews full of hyperbole, that a “this is a decent product, 7/10” review feels like getting dragged. I’d definitely give an A3 a shot.
  • 3 0
 @brianpark: yeah this is exactly how I read Kaz's review. This helmet doesn't fit me quite right but will fit other people fine, it's a good helmet but nothing stands out as exemplary considering it costs £200.
  • 4 0
 @brianpark: Oh, I have nothing against Kaz's review. But people are definitely overreacting to TLD's comments. I'm more disappointed that I went back looking forward to a full on pinkbike shitshow only to find what turned out to be some light piss sprinkled in the wind.
  • 3 0
 @brianpark: Note that I appreciate the straightforward and sober reviews of @mikekazimer, and hope it continues. The helmet review seemed fair and wasn't derogatory.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: Well at least MTB reviewers who give out 7/10s don't receive death threats like video game reviewers do...
  • 21 0
 The Bill Clinton/Specialized anti-erectile disfunction ad is the best bicycle related advertising, ever.

Not even sure if it's real, and don't care either way.
  • 9 0
 I can't believe I forgot about this one. IIRC it's real.
  • 4 0
 100% real. I've still got one of the waterbottles from the campaign.
  • 1 0
 Come on, you gotta hit us with the link
  • 1 0
 I still have that poster in my basement, LOL
  • 8 0
 Thanks for answering my question. An acre is the size of a football field. A 50 acre square is just over a quarter mile per side (0.45 km).

Been looking at 94 acres in Pennsylvania with 400ft vertical. It's a pipedream but fun to think about.

I already live a half block away from several miles of well developed but unsanctioned trails and struggle to get out because of inability to manage my time. So having many multiples of acres of completely undeveloped land is probably a recipe for not riding my bike ever. I just hate driving my car to be able to ride my bike.
  • 7 0
 Buy it!!
  • 5 0
 Build it and they will come.
  • 1 0
 Do itttt vapido-scar!
  • 2 0
 Apologies, buttin' in after the fact. A football field w/ endzones = ~1.3 acres. One square mile is 640 acres so 94 acres is 15% of a sq. mile...still TONS you can do on something like that. I have 35 acres w/800 vert and I have 17 miles of trails on it - access zig-zags on the way up, cut-throughs, loops & top-down drops. Two miles just on the 1st 5 acres I bought so you could do a hella lot on 94 - years worth. Also helps to cycle yr trails in & out, that is "fallow" or rest them for a year or two so they don't just erode the hell away. Makes for way better trails (and clean water)
  • 11 0
 What brand is it thats not willing to share geo numbers?
  • 5 2
 They said the company threated to sue.... so it's got to be specialized, right?
  • 2 1
 might be forestal.
  • 12 0
 That would be Mullet Bikes. Sue me mfers. Dumpster fire of a brand and not only because their marketing ranks among the worst of the worst
  • 5 0
 @mistermtb: The comments section on the Vital article was so much of a dumpster fire that it looks like the whole article got deleted
  • 1 1
They seem to have geo listed for their Honeymaker. Did they have a change of philosophy, or was it a different manufacturer?

  • 1 0
 @earache: They just launched a full suspension bike that they wouldn't share the geo of.
  • 4 0
 it also had a regressive (ie: opposite of progressive) linkage and the marketing around it was so hilariously bad

There were also MULTIPLE newly created accounts singing praise for the company located where the company was based, which were banned by vital mtb because they were all created by the same ip address in colorado

and then Mullet dragged Foes racing through the mud, causing someone from Foes to call out the Mullet guy on being a complete asshat
  • 12 3
 lol pinkbike academy
  • 3 1
 Not sure if it's best or worst, but I convinced my kids (under 13) to watch it with me and they love it!
  • 9 3
 Question for next week: instead of the race between Kaz + Levy can we please see a cage match between Kaz and TLD?
  • 7 3
 TLD would turn up late to the fight. They’d then misrepresent what MK said when the time was agreed and get pissy towards anyone who pointed out that MK was right.
  • 3 1
 @ODubhslaine: I'm still convinced that it was a junior intern, drunk, sitting on his couch eating Doritos in the dark while getting angry at a laptop, wearing nothing but socks and underwear.
  • 2 0
 @Angu58: I would bet money it was Stikman.
  • 1 0
 @Angu58: someone mentioned that it was the head honcho Troy Lee himself, wonder how they could know that though....
  • 6 0
 Not MTB, but the S&M Bikes/Chris Moeller approach to marketing is a surefire way to wins friends and influence people.
  • 9 0
 Best Chris Moeller story I read (Ride BMX? Snap? Dig?) was when a Taiwanese brand asked if they could get a pair of Slam bars in order to measure and imitate. Chris said sure thing, grabbed a pair, and laid them on the ground behind the S&M van. He drove over them a few times, flattening them out to have zero sweep, then passed them off to the questioning factory. He claims that about a year later, tons of zero sweep bars hit the market. I never saw the zero sweep bars for sale myself, but can believe the rest of it.
  • 3 0
 @JeffWeed: he probably holds the record for the most cease and desist letters and threatened lawsuits for his ads and t-shirts. Some people just don't have a sense of humour...
  • 2 0
 @JeffWeed: That is so fantastic! But are you sure he wasn't trying to demonstrate the handlebar's strength to a skeptical potential customer by showing that you can drive a van over them without damaging them? Just like in Napoleon Dynamite, hehe.
  • 2 0
 @Stuartkbmx: HAVE DANK!!! That is great!
  • 4 0
 Is ... Is everyone on PB's staff too young to have recognized the Santa Cruz Chameleon song as a humorous take on Karma Chameleon by Culture Club?
  • 2 0
 that was by far the most epic product launch. EVER.
  • 5 0
 Not sure how I feel about eMTB ads showcasing the 'climbing' performance.
  • 1 0
 A whole bunch of Transition bike videos were overlooked. I worked at Marzocchi during the Bomber Girls years.. The year it really sucked was the year we used real riders instead of models.. They got slammed hard in the forums.. Lisa and Katrina fun to hang out with and to turn laps with in Whistler. Also, Maxxis April Lawyer ads...
  • 1 0
 My theory on the Status is that it's a bike designed around being nore affordable - clearly shares tubes with the Stumpjumper and not running a marketing campaign will also reduce costs.

The problem is that kind of undermines Specialized's whole brand philosophy and also the Stumpjumper is one of their most popular models by far. Maybe they were trying to reach a different consumer base with this bike without damaging their existing customer base - hence not releasing many details to the mtb media and pushing out a campaign only on social media.

In short the reason you were left out Kaz is because they didn't want you buying one?

The part of this theory I don't really get is who was this 160mm trail bike aimed at? Maybe those local shredder kids that have all the skills but can't pay the bills?
  • 1 0
 I wonder how bike shops feel about all the advances in electronics. It seems that folks will be going to the Apple store rather than their LBS in the future. Will we need mechanics if there is barely anything mechanical on the bike?
  • 4 0
 GT’s “Fast. It’s corporate policy.” Best ever.
  • 1 0
 Question for you guys: Do you ever see regenerative braking (KERS for you Levi Wink )being integrated into EMTBs? Could be a button-activated thing that lets you charge if/when you wish, and possibly extend the range of the batteries a bit further or allow the batteries to be smaller to go the same distance.
  • 1 0
 I remember walking into an out of town but relatively LBS a few years that carries Giant. The 27.5 marketing and jargon at this place was OTT. They had multiple displays with diagrams and charts claiming their “obvious” superiority over 29ers with the sales guy chiming in with condescending know-it-all jingoism. I haven’t been back to that store since but sometimes wonder how that worked out for them. :-)
  • 1 0
 I fell hard for that add from Fox, showcasing their Fork, Shock & Dropper Post on a gorgeous matte black Yeti SB-66C. I ended up buying that bike, which was actually a great bike (other than that 1st Switch Link).
  • 3 0
 I thought that race face builder thing was pretty cool, but I don't remember all of it, so maybe not lol.
  • 1 0
 Creator Series? Yeah I thought that was an awesome effort to support creatives. Not really a product thing, but definitely won some feel-good points for the brand.
  • 3 0
 Park: good way of building your team without going out and buying fastest riders

Trek: we just signed vali and loris
  • 1 0
 Hah, I always love it when brands develop riders rather than go and buy the fastest hot commodity. I've got so much respect for what Commencal has done over the years. That said, I think Trek's DH team now has an amazing mix of development talent and established, successful riders. Vali and Loris are both early in their careers, they've both got lots of room to grow and dominate.
  • 3 1
 I'm sorry guys, but how would the seemingly offensive YT Jeffsy ad have been ok if they had just "flipped it"? What do you mean by that?
  • 3 0
 So even when talking about the Status you won't aknowledge Levy's botched review?
  • 1 2
 What I don´t really get is the claims without any foundation. Like RockShox torque caps. They are suppose to increase stiffness but by how much? You can sure measure it in the lab but is that enough? RS provided a lot of numbers when launching the ZEB but there is nothing for the torque caps. Or FOX: The 38 has a round arch because they used FEA (finite element analysis). At that pricepoint they should have done this 15 years ago since FEA is nothing new at all.

I get the feeling overmarketing is a thing and it is sometimes really annoying.
  • 2 0
 I REALLY LOVE THE JEFFSY AD! Please comment on my insensitivity.
  • 1 0
 No mention of muc offs horribly sexist adds of amazing.... Some of the worst there was!
  • 2 0
 Loved the Santa Cruz 5010 launch video

  • 1 0
 If anyone knows how to rate a podcast on Spotify hit a guy up.
  • 1 0
 Gary Fisher Genesis Geometry, worst marketing ever.
  • 1 1
 The sooner Brian realises that he’s really not funny the better, his jokes about the uk are cringe
  • 1 0
 Pink bike so woke. fuuuuck
  • 1 0
 Giving doublecrownaddict a boner guys.
  • 1 0
 Really !?
  • 1 1
 Spez Levo '22

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