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Friday, April 4, 2014

Orange Theory Fitness Responds to Criticism That Its Ad Campaign Exploits Memorials to Dead Cyclists

Posted by on Fri, Apr 4, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Yesterday, I got tagged in this tweet of an orange-painted bicycle chained up next to an I-5 overpass:


Then this morning at 11th Avenue and East Pike Street, I saw this:
capitol_hill_organge_bike.jpg
  • DH

According to the internet, the bikes began appearing around town last year to promote a new Orange Theory Fitness gym opening on Queen Anne. Now that Orange Theory Fitness has another gym opening later this month, the bikes are popping up on Capitol Hill. "It was a marketing campaign recommended by our main office in Fort Lauderdale," said the general operations manager for Orange Fitness's Seattle locations, who refused to give her name. "It is a buzz campaign."

For the person who tweeted at me, the meme seems pretty obvious: For about the last 10 years, activists have been leaving ghost bikes painted white at the scene of accidents as memorials to cyclists who have died. For their part, the company seems to both acknowledge the relationship between their campaign and the white bikes, while also distancing themselves from it.

"I understand the purpose of a memorial versus our marketing campaign," the general manager said. "I see them as very separate. We have been trying to partner with the white bike campaign in the past and we are not to trying to offend anybody at all."

Update at Noon: OH, LOOK AT WHAT IS SUDDENLY NOT THERE:

no_orange_bike.jpg
  • DH

 

Comments (46) RSS

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TheMisanthrope 1
It's kinda gross.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on April 4, 2014 at 10:11 AM · Report this
3
Tone-deaf
Posted by SeaSpinMD on April 4, 2014 at 10:14 AM · Report this
emor 5
I spotted the bike on Pike while riding my bike to work the other day. I thought, "weird" and promptly forgot about it. But now I know that it's an ad for a gym I give no fucks about. That's good advertising!
Posted by emor on April 4, 2014 at 10:16 AM · Report this
schmacky 6
Massively ill-conceived.
Posted by schmacky on April 4, 2014 at 10:17 AM · Report this
7
Wow, that's insensitive.
Posted by earwig on April 4, 2014 at 10:18 AM · Report this
8
So that's what these orange bikes are about?
Marketing fail.
Posted by Conrad McMasters on April 4, 2014 at 10:19 AM · Report this
9
Yeah, this is really tasteless.
Posted by Solk512 on April 4, 2014 at 10:21 AM · Report this
10
Saw a dude promoting the gym in a little stand on Broadway. When I asked about the bikes he got nervous and pretended not to know what I was talking about.
Posted by nh344 on April 4, 2014 at 10:21 AM · Report this
AirBuddy 11
The fuck is wrong with companies trying to get those sweet sweet "cap hill" $$$s??? Orange Gym should just stick with their regular shtick and blanket the area with dudes in Orange-man suits.
Posted by AirBuddy on April 4, 2014 at 10:22 AM · Report this
12
Stupid. Pretty much what to expect from some place headquartered in Florida.
Posted by leighzbohns on April 4, 2014 at 10:28 AM · Report this
trstr 13
"We have been trying to partner with the white bike campaign in the past..."

Because gyms and bike fatalities go together?
Posted by trstr on April 4, 2014 at 10:29 AM · Report this
Certainly! 14
"We are not trying to offend anybody at all," is a smarmy avoidance of culpability. It's like telling someone, "I'm sorry YOU got YOUR feelings hurt."
Posted by Certainly! on April 4, 2014 at 10:32 AM · Report this
mikethehammer 15
The fact that everybody involved in this was too goddamn stupid to foresee the inevitable backlash is funny. The campaign itself is just awful.
Posted by mikethehammer on April 4, 2014 at 10:42 AM · Report this
16
"Trying to partner with the white bike campaign"

That is some grade-A middle management bullshit
Posted by eptified on April 4, 2014 at 10:48 AM · Report this
mikethehammer 17
Also... Are they all BMX bikes? Because that's just odd. I don't have any idea if using road bikes or even stationary spin cycles(!?) would make any more sense, but BMX are very rarely associated with anything fitness oriented.
Posted by mikethehammer on April 4, 2014 at 10:48 AM · Report this
18
They should try an Oso-related ad campaign while they're at it.
Posted by mrjoe on April 4, 2014 at 10:54 AM · Report this
19
It makes no sense. The marketing campaign never mentions the name of the product or where to get it, and looks far too much like a completely different campaign with which it is not affiliated in any way. There's no name recognition to link to, and the fact that the company admits the resemblance to the ghost-bike campaign (unsuccessfully, from the sound of it) suggests a hell of a lot of insensitivity on the gym's part.
Posted by Jenkitty on April 4, 2014 at 10:58 AM · Report this
deepeyes 20
True, @17. Are BMX bikes associated with anything that people on Capital Hill are into? Pretty sure it would be a negative connotation, if anything...
Posted by deepeyes http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1351140610 on April 4, 2014 at 11:03 AM · Report this
very bad homo 21
This is in very bad taste.
Posted by very bad homo on April 4, 2014 at 11:08 AM · Report this
kylembelltown 22
i'm guessing that these kid bikes are cheapest to come by and painting them orange and leaving them on bike racks is the easiest way to be sure they would stay there a while. but you don't use a bmx bike to work out in a gym. epic fail.
Posted by kylembelltown on April 4, 2014 at 11:11 AM · Report this
schmacky 23
@18: Yes! And maybe they should do a Crimea tie-in.
Posted by schmacky on April 4, 2014 at 11:14 AM · Report this
24
A pair of bolt cutters and a can of turpentine could result in some donations to Bike Works. I'm sure some kids would be more than happy with a few orange spots on a refurbished bike.
Posted by drfardook on April 4, 2014 at 11:14 AM · Report this
25
So, they're advertising by chaining up ugly crap all over our city?
Posted by iamveryseriousnow on April 4, 2014 at 11:15 AM · Report this
26
So glad to finally have this mystery resolved. I thought the orange might have been just a different type of signifier--"A bicyclist was unnecessarily injured here"--or something. Consequently, every time I saw one, I felt perplexed and just a little bit sad. Neither of those feelings makes me want to rush off to the gym. Bad strategy all around.
Posted by stating the obvious on April 4, 2014 at 11:19 AM · Report this
28
I wish I could afford to buy a bunch of headstones to paint orange and leave outside this asshole gym.
Posted by fad on April 4, 2014 at 11:22 AM · Report this
Foghorn Leghorn 29
To be fair, most of us walking by probably saw the orange bikes and went: "Oh look, an Art." And that was all.
Posted by Foghorn Leghorn on April 4, 2014 at 11:24 AM · Report this
30
As a bike rider, I'm more pissed that they're *cluttering public bike parking*.
What if a car lot spray-painted a bunch of clunkers & left them parked in viable parking spots?
Posted by moo http://doitforthegirls.com/ on April 4, 2014 at 11:33 AM · Report this
31
Other cities such as Kansas City do use orange bikes to denote where a biker was injured. I was under the impression that's what was going on here. Glad to know it isn't. Though the gym ad campaign is supremely tacky.
Posted by Ghost Biker on April 4, 2014 at 11:34 AM · Report this
32
Someone should paint these bikes white.
Posted by dimnone on April 4, 2014 at 11:35 AM · Report this
33
@16 is right. Do they have ANY concept of what the ghost bikes represent?
"trying to partner with the white bike campaign" is BS, they're trying to cover their ass. Who did they talk to, some guy at a memorial seriously said 'great idea, but why don't you make it bright & garish'?!?

@24 I think the spray paint might render them useless, or at the least a total pain-in-the-ass to fix up. Thanks Orange for destroying a usable fitness machine in the name of fitness.
Posted by moo http://doitforthegirls.com/ on April 4, 2014 at 11:37 AM · Report this
mkyorai 34
@13 pretty much nailed it. "We have been trying to partner with the white bike campaign in the past..." is probably the most revolting sentiment in the entire story. I can't imagine why the white bike campaign wouldn't want to be associated with the "Orange Theory Fitness gym". Tasteless.
Posted by mkyorai on April 4, 2014 at 11:48 AM · Report this
stinkbug 35
Does anyone remember a few years back when some company in Seattle locked bike wheels to bike racks? There was a tag attached to the wheel that promoted whatever company it was, but at a glance many people thought it was just an abandoned/stripped bike. What year was that? What company was that? My google-fu is failing me.

In any case, orange bikes were also used as a marketing tactic in NYC in 2008 (by DKNY), resulting in a similar backlash:

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/0…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6KmkEZQ…

Posted by stinkbug on April 4, 2014 at 11:55 AM · Report this
36
#30 nailed it.

Bicycle parking is a public good provided by public dollars. Regardless of what it is, private enterprise shouldn't be allowed to appropriate it for advertising themselves.
Posted by Lilting Missive on April 4, 2014 at 12:08 PM · Report this
Eric F 37
It's back in front of Stranger HQ on E Pine as of 12:30.
Posted by Eric F on April 4, 2014 at 12:37 PM · Report this
Just Blue 40
@39, you do realize they're not graveside memorials, right? It's nothing like the various ribbon campaigns, each of which directly relates to a cause. The sole cause here is marketing. A more comparable analogy would be a ribbon campaign for OfficeMax Awareness.

It's tacky.
Posted by Just Blue on April 4, 2014 at 1:42 PM · Report this
treacle 41
Poor choice. I will dislike this gym more than I dislike gyms in general. I may even steal one of their bikes, I need one for Burning Man.
Posted by treacle on April 4, 2014 at 2:20 PM · Report this
Fire Aim Ready 42
The orange bikes are just more visual clutter courtesy of corporate advertising.

But the ghost bikes? This country has gone a bit memorial crazy. Like the car crash roadside memorials of stuffed animals and crosses, the ghost bikes are macabre and pathetic.

And aren't ghost bikes something of a disincentive for cycling? When I pass one I think, "Glad I'm surrounded by a ton of Detroit steel."
Posted by Fire Aim Ready http://www.4groundmusic.org on April 4, 2014 at 3:37 PM · Report this
43
This company cannot claim they weren't aware of ghost bikes. I and many of my friends contacted to alert them to how tasteless their campaign was and that we were offended. They immediately apologized and claimed they knew nothing of the memorials and promised to take them down. They lied. They suck.
Posted by spacklespeck on April 4, 2014 at 7:44 PM · Report this
44
This company cannot claim they weren't aware of ghost bikes. I and many of my friends contacted them and alerted them of their faux pas over six months ago. They immediately apologized, claimed they knew nothing of the memorials, and promised to take them down. They lied. They suck.
Posted by spacklespeck on April 4, 2014 at 7:50 PM · Report this
46
Why would they "partner" with something that has nothing to do with them? Also, I made a formal complaint last year and someone by the name of Micah emailed me back apologizing and promised me that all of the bikes would be removed asap. Instead of them being removed in a timely manner, more started popping up in other neighborhoods. And just now when I made a comment on their FB page in regards to the 2 bikes being chained to their front door, they quickly deleted it. They don't care about how the community feels about their marketing tactics and they have no plans to stop doing this anytime soon. Maybe it's time to get the Seattle Police Dept. involved since they are littering their non functional bikes all over town.
Posted by KailuaKona75 on April 14, 2014 at 1:56 PM · Report this
47
Further developments. Someone chained their orange bikes to the business door yesterday. The employees are embarrassed about the campaign, corporate office won't budge, and there are new orange bikes being chained to public bike racks (right not on Broadway between Mercer and Roy) A flame war is happening on the FB page and they are taking comments down as fast as they go up. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Orangethe…
Posted by spacklespeck on April 14, 2014 at 2:05 PM · Report this
48
i started a "blue bike project" in fort lauderdale back in 1998-1999...it's still going strong. the fact that Orange Theory Fit'n'Ass is based in Fort Lauderdale make me go hmmmmm.



PS. the white bikes started in 2003......



give Orange Theory Fit 'n' Ass a break!



blame me bitches!!!!!
Posted by bluebikeproject on November 12, 2014 at 8:50 PM · Report this
49
okay, so in 1998-1999 i started a
blue bike project in fort lauderdale, florida….
the white ghost bikes were started in 2003…..
in the article it reads that "orange theory fit'n'ass is housed in fort lauderdale, florida…
therefor give orange theory a break!!!
nothing's new everything's been done
Posted by bluebikeproject on November 12, 2014 at 9:46 PM · Report this
50
Yep, hate to say this kids.....but the gentleman above is correct. Blue bikes were all around Fort Lauderdale as a public art project since 1998. Love 'em or hate 'em, they definitely got talked about when blue bikes of all sizes began showing up. They are still there to this day, and it always make me smile when I see one, since the originator is a long time creative resident in our community. While everyone is offended about Orange Theory disrespecting the ghost bike project, I've never heard of it down in this area. When orange theory started the orange bikes, it was most likely as a result of what was seen all around our city.....so I'm thinking if anyone would be offended it would be our local artist. And based on the comments from him above, it doesn't appear that he'll lose much sleep over it.





So, one way or the other, now we've all been educated. We've got blue bikes, white bikes, and now orange bikes.





I'm willing to bet that there are probably some red bikes and maybe even some green ones we don't know about in the world.
Posted by Ft. Lauderdale resident on November 13, 2014 at 2:49 AM · Report this
51
Yep, hate to say this kids.....but the gentleman above is correct. Blue bikes were all around Fort Lauderdale as a public art project since 1998. Love 'em or hate 'em, they definitely got talked about when blue bikes of all sizes began showing up. They are still there to this day, and it always make me smile when I see one, since the originator is a long time creative resident in our community. While everyone is offended about Orange Theory disrespecting the ghost bike project, I've never heard of it down in this area. When orange theory started the orange bikes, it was most likely as a result of what was seen all around our city.....so I'm thinking if anyone would be offended it would be our local artist. And based on the comments from him above, it doesn't appear that he'll lose much sleep over it.



So, one way or the other, now we've all been educated. We've got blue bikes, white bikes, and now orange bikes.



I'm willing to bet that there are probably some red bikes and maybe even some green ones we don't know about in the world.
Posted by Ft. Lauderdale resident on November 13, 2014 at 2:52 AM · Report this
stinky 52
Orange Theory is doing this promo stunt in Madison WI as late as this week. Evidently their model is to remove the bikes if people complain, because that's what's reported to be happening there.
Posted by stinky on November 24, 2014 at 9:56 AM · Report this

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