In tee-ball, no matter how bad your team was everyone got a trophy which is fine for little kids but in the real world if everyone gets a trophy (or is offered the opportunity to purchase a trophy), it becomes meaningless because it no longer differentiates the good from the crap.
What’s this have to do with snowboarding?
I’d like to believe that a feature in a buyer’s guide or magazine review means that you should feel safe plunking down a month’s worth of summer job wages on a new stunt stick, sadly it seems an appearance means about as much as that tee-ball trophy. Last month, the Angry Snowboarder published an article critical of Snowboarder Mag (Buying in to the Buyer’s Guide, April 7, 2011) confirming that the annual “Buyer’s Guide” issue of the mag is basically one big advertorial which was followed up with a series of short video interviews at Buoloco where others weighed in on the subject.
You can read my take on the topic of advertorials, after the jump…
Follow the money…
Like any for-profit company SB mag is in the business of keeping its customers happy, because they pay the bills but if you assume that you are the “customer” or that their primary business is producing editorial content, you’re wrong on both counts. Only a fraction of their revenues come from subscribers and newsstand sales; their primary business is selling targeted ad space, and their primary customers are the companies who buy that ad space.
Every time you plunk down $4.95 or whatever it costs at the newsstand for the latest ish, you’re essentially paying to receive a hundred pages of commercial advertisement.
Who’s to blame?
I can’t place all the blame on SB mag, even though they’re providing this forum, I think the companies who choose to participate also need to share in the blame because they’re pushing product rather than opening up to scrutiny and letting the customer discover which is best for his or her needs. I could give two shits if they don’t want to be honest with themselves, or they don’t care enough to participate in a legit evaluation of their products which might say that such-and-such a board isn’t as good as they claim.
But they’re not doing right by the sport and they’re not doing right by their customers and that pisses me off.
What should a Buyer’s Guide do?
A buyer’s guide which had the best interest of the sport and its participants in mind would provide unbiased information in order to help people make the best decisions. Getting a spot in this feature should validate that you’re making great product for your customers and this information should in turn help your customers make better decisions about which board is best for him/her.
Unfortunately the Buyer’s Guide features appear to be an advertising/marketing circle-jerk. The “results” are meaningless, it doesn’t provide substantive feedback to the manufacturers, it’s definitely not objective and you as a customer definitely shouldn’t be basing your purchase decisions solely on these bought-and-paid-for advertorials.
Later this month I’ll talk about what’s next, and why I believe new media is destroying the old paradigm of “push” distribution and high-cost, capital-intensive mass-marketing/production.