Runners across the internet got all up in arms a few days ago over this Bloomberg article and its click-baity headline, “Brooks Needs Runners Who Hate To Run.”
It’s a weird piece with some odd quotes from the company’s CEO, Jim Weber. “Running’s not really a sport,” Weber told Claire Suddath. Message board posters were calling for Weber’s head afterward, and Deadspin’s Dennis Young wrote that the company is “apparently on a quest to destroy itself.”
But is it?
I sure as hell hope not, but I’m interested to see how the brand positions—or re-positions—itself over the next few years. Remember, this is the company that sponsors the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, the Beasts Track Club, and a variety of other highly recognizable athletes, not to mention two of the most popular high school track meets in the country. And while some key people have left the company in recent months, nothing seems to suggest that they’re withdrawing support from the “serious” side of the sport, err, whatever Weber is calling it.
And while there’s nothing wrong with trying to appeal to more runners—and there’s certainly a lot of opportunity amongst the “casual” crowd—or wanting to eventually become a billion-dollar brand, why would Weber try to alienate the base of “serious” runners he’s essentially re-built the brand upon over the past 15 years to achieve those ends? It wouldn’t make any sense—but then again neither does saying there’s a difference between a runner and “a person who runs.”
Anyway, not sure what to make of this story, and I’ve got to think some of the quotes were pulled out of context in the interest of creating controversy. Brooks was clearly trying to do some damage control earlier this week with this post from Weber, but I don’t think they have much to worry about so long as they stay true to what’s made them successful in the first place—creating great products and experiences for runners. Remember: While a person who runs can take it or leave it, a runner will always remain loyal.
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