An Open Letter to Assos

Dear Assos,

I subscribe to Velonews magazine, and have noticed that your ad (shown below for your convenience) has appeared in the premium inside-front cover spread for the past — oh, I dunno — maybe five thousand issues.

Assos, please believe that I have your best interests at heart when I beg you to pull this ad and replace it with something less ridiculous, such as a photo of a chimpanzee wearing a tutu.

Oh, you’d like justification for why I think this ad needs to be pulled? Well, if you insist.

Meet Derek Zoolander
Let’s start with the model. I have no problem with companies using models in their ads. But the model you have selected for your ad — and used throughout your website — clearly does not ride a bike. At all.

He does not have the cycling jersey tanlines. He has a chiseled upper body. Most tellingly, however, is he has silly little stick-like girly legs.

It’s possible, Assos, that I’m actually complaining about a conscious decision you made in picking a non-cyclist to show off your cycling garb. After all, your website seems to indicate that you’re really focusing on the non-cyclist part of the cyclist demographic. I quote:

“The less you ride, the more your body is fragile. The more you need garments that sustain and protect your body when riding your bicycle.”

So, if I understand correctly, your point is that people who ride a lot don’t need good bike clothes. People who rarely ride, however — or better yet, never ride at all — should buy your off-the-charts-expensive biking clothes. That’s a very original point of view, and you should be commended for it. Sadly, the originality of this point is offset by being one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read.

Luxury Body?
Assos, I admit: the heading in your ad, “Luxury body,” drew me in.I think I can safely say, though, that it drew me in for reasons other than what you would like. Essentially, it perplexed me. Here are some of the questions — questions I have no answer to — storming in my mind regarding your heading:

  • What is a “Luxury body?”
  • Why is “Luxury” capitalized, but “body” is not?
  • Will your clothes make my body luxurious?
  • Do I want a luxurious body? After all, I tend to look for luxury in my furniture. Having a “Luxury body” makes me think that I might be a good ottoman.

In search of these answers, I went to your website. Your explanation — if I can call it that — of Luxury body is:

“Assos is designed to give you the look, the style, the elegance & exclusivity. Assos enhances and makes you a luxury body!”

Assos, your explanation just leaves me with more questions. What look? What style? Who do I want to exclude? And that final sentence, ironically, gives new meaning to the word “meaningless.” Assos enhances what?

And, I repeat, what is a luxury body? Please tell me, Assos. I must know.

Lorem Ipsum
Assos, I wouldn’t have taken the time to write to you if your ad problems were limited to a silly model and a ridiculous headline.It was your ad body copy that sent me over the edge.One quick read-through convinced me that up until five minutes before this went to press, this was “lorem ipsum” text, used as placeholder whenever an ad designer doesn’t know what the body copy ought to be. Then, at the last moment, you realized your error, and hired the first non-English-speaker you could find to write “real” ad copy. Let’s take a look at that text, sentence by sentence.

  • It’s now! What’s now? I’m not asking just because this is vague, because if you actually described what is now later, I’d be OK with it. Or maybe you’re just pointing out a fundamental truth: no matter when you read this ad copy, you are reading it now. In which case I apologize.
  • You’ve finally made time to get on your bike and do something for your body and soul. Assos, do you realize what magazine this is in? It’s Velonews. Most people who read this magazine don’t “finally make time” to go ride. We go riding all the time, often at the expense of our careers and family life.
  • These days it’s a luxury to have time for yourself. Fair enough. I don’t see where you’re headed with this, though.
  • This time is your own, it’s about you and it’s your choice! Assos, this copy might work better in Cosmopolitan magazine. They’re really into the psychology of making a personal statement, or of having stuff be “about you.” Most people I ride with, on the other hand, go riding because it’s fun.
  • These moments are precious and should be treated as such. Here’s a tip, Assos: the next time you want to do an ad, get a writer with experience outside the Geriatric Birthday Greeting Card business.
  • Don’t spoil it by using ordinary equipment, which limits you and the entire experience. First off, Assos, I’m going to let you off the hook on your usage of “it” in this sentence, even though it’s a pretty jarring switch from plural (moments) to singular (it). And the reason I’m going to let you off the hook is because you clearly outsourced your ad copy writing to whoever writes those wacky quasi-English phrases for T-shirts in Japan. But are you really suggesting that ordinary equipment limits me, and my entire experience? Isn’t it at least possible that what’s limiting me — as the non-cycling cyclist you’ve identified as your prime demographic — is the fact that I only ride my bike when I can find one of those precious, luxurious moments, when I’ve finally made time to get on my bike?

Your ad copy problems aren’t limited to your ad, Assos. Check out some text right on the home page of your website (if one is willing to wait for all the Flash fireworks to finally die down):

“The Assos Mission is total comfort regardless of price. Definitely not for everybody, but maybe for YOU.”

Which is almost immediately followed by:

“Who needs Total Comfort? Everybody!”

So, if I read you right, total comfort isn’t for everybody, but it might be for me. On the other hand, everybody needs Total Comfort. Maybe the difference is in the capitalization?

Additional Questions
Assos, I have a few other brief ad-related questions I hope you can address:

  • Could you please change the name of your company? I know you’re Swiss and all, so you may not understand that you named your company something that reads and sounds just like an angry, obscene epithet. My young children are forbidden to pronounce your name.
  • What is a “Cycling Body?” Is that what a Luxury body aspires to become? Or is it the other way around?
  • They can ask anything else? In your website, you say, “When the development phase of a new Assos product begins, the one question our engineers, technicians, and tailors are not allowed to ask is: ‘How much must this product cost in order for it to sell in volume?’.” [emphasis, punctuation SIC] Is that really true? Like, it’s OK for them to ask, “What if we used a lot of sequins to make our jerseys really pop?” Or, “How about we make a chamois using nothing but magnesium rivets and barbed wire?” Or — and it looks like someone answered ‘yes’ to this last question — “Should we make a bike outfit that makes the wearer look like he just stepped out of an 80’s vintage Michael Jackson music video?”

Thank you for your time, Assos. I look forward to your resolving this matter in a timely manner.

Kind Regards,

The Fat Cyclist

PS: This doesn’t have anything to do with your ad, but I thought you’d get a kick out of an experience I had with one of your products, Assos. I once purchased a container of Assos Chamois cream, then applied it to my chamois just as I was about to begin a day-long mountain bike ride. Alas, I did not realize that one of the main ingredients in Assos Chamois Cream seems to be menthol, of approximately the same concentration as Ben Gay.

My nether regions were simultaneously aflame and freezing, which is nowhere near as nice a feeling as you might expect.

Wanting to make sure that I was not having a reaction nobody else would have, I hid my pain (exquisite though it was) and offered the container to everyone in the group, many of which thanked me for my generosity and applied your Chamois cream to their chamois’s as well. Their subsequent yelps of pain let me know that I was not alone in my reaction.

I probably don’t need to tell you that I did not finish the jar.

PPS: Assos, after writing and publishing this letter, I got a strongly-worded response from your defender and best friend, Dr. Michael Lammler. I highly recommend you read it.

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