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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Orange persuasion?

It was supposed be a quick trip to the local running store on Bank Street. In and out. I phoned in advance and asked to put aside a pair of Saucony Kinvara. I finally was able to find my size 13. Being on the outer edges of the Bell curve is often problematic. Many stores don't bother ordering too many small or large pairs. Instead they stack up the most popular sizes to maximize their shelf-space. Running to the store after work on Thursday evening I had some time to retrospect on my loyalty to Saucony.  Introduced in 2009, Kinvara offered flexibility, lightness and minimalist feeling of 4-mm heel to toe drop. They became an instant hit with runners inspired by "Born to Run" and bare foot running trend.  I ran Chicago Marathon in 2010 wearing a pair of white-and-red Kinvaras, did Eugene in luminescent-green, and wore black-and-yellow in New York. Each pair served me for hundreds of miles in training eventually ending up with a worn-out upper often fixed by duct tape. My loyalty to Saucony was strong ... at least that's what I thought when I walked into Sports 4 running store on Thursday evening.

My intended five-minute visit lasted an hour spent mostly trying a new pair of Brooks PureFlow. For years Brooks had reputation as maker of low-end shoes sold at Zellers or Sears.  However, the new "Pure" line is high-end. Designed with a help from one of my favorite runners, an ultra-marathoner  Scott Jurek.  Lightweight, responsive, snug but comfortable, with 3.5-mm drop and wide toe-box, these running shoes, I had to admit, represented a perfect product. Designed for runners by runners. Appealing with its innovation as well as with its color.  These particular pair was bright orange!  I know quite well that colors for a long time have been a secret weapon in the marketing arsenal of any consumer product company. Colors have strong meaning and influence us, consumers at the subconscious level. White means "innovation" as defined by Apple. Red "romance" like on Valentine's day, and pink makes us happier. That's why one of the NFL teams had the visitor's locker painted in pink to reduce the aggression of their opponents. Why am I falling for this marketing trick? I know quite well that this orange was chosen to sway me to buy the product?

Well ... this orange seems special. Reminds me of Orange Princess shown in Ottawa Tulip Festival this week when 20,000 tulip bulbs are sent every year from Holland to Canada as gift for our generosity and hospitality to Dutch Royal Family during the World War II. Or maybe it brings memories of the famous orange that Dutch national soccer team usually wears and truly amazing squad Holland had when Johan Cruyff and his team battled Franz Beckenbauer and West Germany for the championship back in 1974 World Cup .

Back to the running store. My rational brain is telling me to stick with what has worked for so many years. There is always a risk in changing shoes two weeks before a race and even bigger risk trying a new brand of runners. However, my inner voice, now fully influenced by brilliant marketing machine, tells me that those orange shoes are perfect. This neural association with Scott Jurek, Tulip Festival, Johan Cruyff, Franz Beckenbauer is simply too much to resist. It's time to "flow" with my new orange Brooks!

Run Strong ... and chose your colors wisely!

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