Extreme Advertising: Go Big or Go Home

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Extreme Advertising: Go Big or Go Home

This Maxim climbing gear ad is an example of using both aggressive language and images to promote climbing as an extreme sport. North Face uses this image in their web page. If you wear North Face gear, you too can take your ice axes and back-counrty skis into the Tibetan wilderness. Adidas uses this image in their trail running ads. The caption in the image reads "Runners. Yeah, We're Different." It invites people to relate to some of the more intimate details of a separate subculture.


Advertisements of outdoor gear tell us we live in an extreme world today. No longer do we go out mountain biking or skiing, they tell us. We need to go big, risking our lives to promote an image of ourselves as one who can push the edge of the envelope by extreme mountain biking and extreme skiing. NorthFace, a high-end outdoor clothing company started this language in the 1970s in its advertising of ski apparel. Now, most every sport has gone extreme. To advertise this new image, companies have attempted to use a variety of techniques that separate themselves from the rest of the crowd. They include:

--Creating an Extreme Image to a Wide-Based Consumer Audience: Boulder Gear and North Face.

--Advertising to a Young, Aggressive Group Obsessed with Speed: Manastash and an ad inside APEX Magazine

--Creating an Insider Feeling of the Extreme...with a Dash of Playfulness: Nike and Adidas

Extremism as an image has come to include outdoor activities such as kayaking, skiing, climbing, mountain biking, windsurfing and a host of other mainstream outdoor activities. It has also brought about a variety of subcategories as well. Sky diving now has six new disciplines, including sky surfing, free flying and free style-an aerial ballet. There ís even an extreme version of the extreme sport of sky diving called BASE jumping (BASE=Bridge, Aerial, Structure, Earth) in which participants jump from low-lying structures and open their chute with only seconds separating them between an extreme experience and death (Heath 1997: p4). Sports are not the only aspect of extreme though. The language has seeped into our everyday vocabulary to the point that we can not do anything without having the possibility of doing it extreme. Bill Gates speaks of extreme programming, and there ís extreme golf in which participants play golf around unused summer ski resorts. Books of extreme adventure have been popularized by John Krauker's Into Thin Air.
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