I had some fun the other day. It was not intended to be at another persons expense. First let me say that I detest advertising and marketing as a whole. A very long time ago I saw Mike Barnicle do an editorial where he was painstakingly removing the treads from a logo on a pair of running shorts. “I purchased the shorts, they are not paying me to advertise for them.” It’s a bit extreme but it drives my point. So when I see a famous person associated with a product my gut reaction is “advertising” and then it is “what is this company trying to sell me?” Selling is the art of separating you from your money. Make no mistake, it’s an art and that is exactly what it’s for. Advertising wants you to put your money in one companies pocket and not another companies. It’s that simple.
So I had some fun. I was poking fun at Spartan Race. My issue was not what they did. It was not how they did it. It isn’t even with whom they did it with. So what were my issues and what was I poking fun at? Fame, Media saturation, Viral Marketing, and Idolatry. Mostly I was poking fun at culture. American culture. Our culture. We as a nation are media obsessed. We are awe struck by stardom. So when a company can capitalize on someone who has achieved fame they will. This is not something new. Satirizing it is not something new.
“But but but…” Awe stick it. Ms Keys is probably by all accounts a wonderful person. I don’t know her. Were I to meet her that would be wonderful. Because of her vocal talents and the fame that has given her, I too would be a bit starstruck. In my book, for running a Spartan race, she has a check in the awesome column. But I have weird standards anyway. My meme was not about her, it never was. My largest issue was normal people needing to post and repost the fact that a Grammy winning singer ran a race. Hence “Regale me with the profound significance of this.” It’s a profound significance to her I am sure. I hope that medal sits right next to other awards she aptly has earned. I hope it hangs from her review mirror. (no I don’t because that is a visual impairment and could cause an accident, that goes out to all of you.) But on that day she was just a normal runner, the race was hers. She prepared for it. She ran it. Alicia, woman, mud runner.
Fame and stardom are wonderful but using a persons notoriety from one thing and then plying that, into something entirely different is silly. It’s advertising. It is trying to sell you something. When the demographics of that celebrity match your target audience, it’s marketing. Good marketing at that. Smart marketing. But we all have within us the ability to do this on our own for ourselves. We needn’t say “Some famous person did this I should too.” To Spartan is to make a leap. A leap of confidence, a leap of physical endurance, a leap of faith. You can bring the Red Carpet with you, but it can’t make you run.
So no. My meme was not about who was in the picture so much as it was about those who shared it. To Ms Keys, go be on fire. Set others alight. Challenge stereotypes of fame. If an apology is needed, I sincerely am.