Obey Rapha

From Twitter:

Heard others wonder if Rapha actually sold anything or if it was a sophisticated social marketing campaign not unlike Andre has a Posse


or Obey Giant


This post and image on Facebook resulted in a discussion. Bubbling it up here.

[Byron](http://bikehugger.com/people/byron/) said:

> I overheard industry types pondering Rapha’s marketing. A graphic and post resulted from that convo. My take is Rapha is brilliant and I guess likely aren’t aware of the social marketing aspect.

The image is meant to be ironic and an observation.

[Laura Brennan](Laura Brennan) said:

> Rapha’s marketing is alright compared to other cycling apparel ‘gems’ like Louis Garneau (barf) & Pearl Izumi (barf barf), but I would by no means say it’s brilliant.


Their head marketeer was with Nike for a while which would explain the similarities between the [Obey image above](http://www.boingboing.net/2005/06/29/minor-threat-vs-nike.html), and this:


It was probably the “major threat” of being sued that made them go for a brand that was a little more excepting to being pouched (Even though Dischord has put out some real crap in the past decade, they are still true to the cause).


The clever part of their marketing is that it does not take a lot of time to be creative when all your doing is sitting at the top of the starving artist pond waiting for the big fish to poke his head up high enough for the public to recognize it, and then blatantly rip it off.


Duly noted, I’m sure there are plenty of men out there in their late 30’s to late 40’s who find this ad brilliant… because it makes them feel like they are a part of something “cool” when they wear Rapha. These are the same people who can afford Rapha (well besides the annoying little status symbol hats) ... so I guess they’re hitting their target market.


My opinion: They better walk on their toes after this one. Young people think there stuff is cool because it’s expensive, elite and a status symbol. Shepard Fairey… even though he’s a hometown boy for me, is on his 16th minute of pop culture stardom, and I’m sure he’d tell you the same thing.

Byron said: We created this image.

Maybe Rapha is just the thing to wear when elfin steel bikes don’t go fast enough for you.

Laura’s post confused me for a sec—I assumed you guys were doing a send up, then reading the comments it sounded as if it might be an actual marketing ploy coming from Rapha…and I could scarcely believe it, much less evaluate its potential efficacy.

Such a campaign may play to urban hipsters, but I don’t think anyone but corporate executives pretending to be urban hipsters could actually afford their products. I’m with Champs on that.

Their stuff is nice is, but so is a Mercedes E class.

Laura’s post resulted from I think her and presumably others thinking that was an actual Rapha poster. It’s not. We made that as *a send up* and also an observation of the brand and their marketing—obey the brand of Rapha for the cool.

This post resulted from the tweet where I wrote what I’m hearing people say about Rapha. Considering the reaction, it might as well be a Rapha poster—it’s ironic. You’ll see in my postings some Obey stuff because we see it wherever we travel: [London](http://www.flickr.com/photos/huggerindustries/2098399760/where a), [Amsterdam](http://www.flickr.com/photos/huggerindustries/4042456736/in/set-72157622508626667), and so on. Shepard Fairey painted [one of Lance’s bikes](http://bikehugger.com/2009/05/lance-bling.html) too.

Laura added some backstory I wasn’t aware of, but when she linked to it [Minor Threat v. Nike case](http://www.boingboing.net/2005/06/29/minor-threat-vs-nike.html), it made more sense.

My questions are:

* Is Rapha making a concerted social marketing campaign? Did that just happen, cultivated?

* Are they moving product or creating a street brand?

* Is all that culture contrived?

To catch on like OBEY would be excellent, but this certainly isn’t our style. However, if anyone out there has an idea as simple and effective, please send it my way.

Also, funny side note Laura, while I had nothing to do with the Minor Threat/Major Threat skate thing- it was one of my best friends who did. Ouch. Good thing the ‘Purple Reign’ “homage” never caught the same attention.


Advertise here

About this Entry

Downtown Commuter was the previous entry in this blog.

Low Neutral High is the next one.

Find more recent content on our home page and archives.

About Bike Hugger