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.

0 comments

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  3. Theresa

    How did you get this post dated 1969???? And, it’s excellent, have you noticed the women they use in their ads?? Some kind of runway models…..

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  6. defender

    I don’t understand your point, so do you pick and rant at every magazine ad you see? fyi – all cycle clothing companies use models for their ads and catalogs, it is to convey a simple point which you don’t get and i won’t bother explaining. the bottom line, you singled out assos because you KNOW their clothing is the best, but you can’t afford it.

  7. iDon, uNot

    Is defender really serrious? Really? OK, so I have to say, somehow I JUST read this for the first time. My wife was in fact concerned about the noises I was making on account I was laughing so hard. I actually had to put my laptop down at one point and walk away because I couldn’t catch my breath! The kicker to the whole thing…
    ” 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. ”
    LOVED it, Fatty!

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  10. FC defender

    ‘defender’… The point is, Assos don’t market to the serious riders, they market to the rich riders. The fat guys on Cervellos on the Saturday morning rides are the ones who wear their overpriced rubbish.

    You aren’t a ‘serious rider’ just because you wear or ride on expensive products.

  11. Ron Callahan

    Amen on calling out Assos.

    Sure, it’s really nice stuff, but for the price of a jersey and bibs from Assos (or Rapha or Panache), I can buy 5 outfits from another manufacturer. For the cost of 5 outfits from Assos, I could do some really nice bike upgrades, like some Mavic R-Sys wheels.

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  13. Andy

    Elden,
    Just stumbled across your letter. If you like the ad, you should check out the latest catalog. There are PAGES and PAGES of this kind of ad copy. I had the same thought about the models. Where are the emaciated upper bodies and tree trunk-size quads? These folks look more like Stepford cyclists.
    On the other hand, have you tried these %^$#@! bibs? I am a MUCH fatter cyclist than you, and judging by the models, have the very opposite of the “cycling body.” But as much as I hate to admit it, they ARE $50-100 better than my Pearl Izumi and Voler bibs. Ron’s point about more outfits or new wheels is well taken, but you don’t have to buy the whole kit.
    I don’t mean to be shilling for Assos, but the bibs are that good. Any chance you could write Assos for a pair of 2008 F.I. Mille S5 Bib Shorts for review? They might want the opportunity to convert you.
    I enjoy the blog, and look forward to receiving my FC jersey in November. Maybe I’ll take a picture of me wearing it with my Assos bibs and send it to you!

  14. Derek

    In the words of Larry the Cable Guy, “now tha righ thar is funnay”- as well, the links over to the docs comments, Lance, etc.

    Concur with last poster- my first pair of FI.13 S2s with more than 5000 kms in the saddle are like new- my Voler, Biemme and Campy bibs were done at half that mileage. You’d need to buy 5 pairs of bib shorts to last as long as the Assos bibs. Following Merckx’s notion of “Ride lots”, be comfortable and don’t worry about the R-Sys. Heavier wheels are better for training anyway, right? Did you know that there is a crash replacement program on all Assos? Yep, “here are my torn up shreds of what was once a jersey and shorts”…”And here is your brand new stuff free of charge, Sir.”

    As for the models, could care less about luxury body boy, buy c’mon guys, even my wife thinks that Katerina is hot, even if she’s never straddled a bike in her life! I’m okay with her not having tanlines.

    Fat Cyclist, well done on giving most folks a good laugh- never a bad time to look at the lighter side of things (sorry for the inadvertent pun there).

    Cheers,
    Derek

  15. cyclegoddess

    What about the women they use?All tits and nothing else! I now guys are the target market, being more of them ride but really, if I am looking to buy some bib knicks, I really would rather see how they for over UNMODIFIED real boobs. Not inflated cartoon ones. And also, someone with THIGHS. Will these fit a real woman I ask, as this ones a guy with tits.
    Let alone a woman with some muscle.

  16. nanette

    I just came over here from PW. I do not cycle, but I just spewed my coffee over the line “no matter when you read this copy, you are reading it now”
    That was really funny. Ok, I will finish reading and try not to spew any more.

  17. Conor

    Hi Fat Cyclist, really enjoying the blog, but I couldn’t let the moment pass without saying that as a fellow Fat Cyclist (5ft 8″, 216lbs) I wouldn’t leave home without chamois cream.

    My favourite until recently was Assos (I know, I know, but you get used to the tingling – and it has proven quite effective at preventing any re-occurance of saddle sores).

    However recently, and I think you might agree with me on this one, DZNuts has made its way to my….eh…..welll….nuts, and despite the ridiculous price, I’ve been rather pleased.

    Kindest regards,

    Conor

  18. Reid

    I’ve gotta vote for the PI Octane over the Assos. Assos chamios is too bulky. I’ll put the PI 4D on my butt over the new Assos any day.

  19. Wil Hayes

    I have no idea how I missed this post, but after 1/2 hour of continuos followed by days of sporadic and unprovoked snorts I have to tell you this is the best post I have ever read anywhere! FC you rule.

  20. Wil Hayes

    I couldn’t type the work laughter because it again provoked another gut wrenching round… Good luck on the ride tomorrow. You and your family will always be in my prayers.

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  24. Andrew

    LOL found it on there website under terminology!

    Luxury Body
    Money buys many things but not a “luxury body”! Real luxury is to dedicate time to ourselves, to our body, to our passion: Cycling.

  25. Ron Callahan

    You know what? I eventually tried their stuff. I have a pair of f1.13_s5 bibs and an Intermediate Evo jersey and THEY WORK. They fit like cycling clothing should.

    I hereby rescind my earlier comment.

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  28. Pattie Dunn

    Ran into the letter today and it made me laugh. I’m literally a fat female cyclist. Take a look at the Giordana ads for female bib shorts. These women do not ride! Again, no stupid tan lines, their legs do not look like over stuffed sausages in black lycra and really…..how many of us ride around with our gloved hands covering our boobs.

  29. Mikeyboy

    Love the letter, they have of course amended their model, now he is an over ripped 6-pack and appropriately large quads (I checked). Fantastic letter, it must have worked 🙂

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