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Market research

June 16, 2008

The cartoon below is the creation of myself (the “idea person”) and my brother-in-law Bob (the artist).

Race for the White House

We’re thinking of selling a “Runners for Obama” t-shirt featuring this design or something similar. The cartoon would be silk-screened onto a white or light-colored “technical-fiber” shirt with short sleeves. The price would likely cover the cost of materials and shipping plus an additional fee to be donated to the Obama campaign.

At this point, a couple of questions are on our minds:

(1) Would runners who support Obama (or who just like the cartoon) buy this shirt?

(2) Would large numbers of non-runners (or McCain supporters) be upset by this shirt?

Regarding #2, I’m confident that any reasonable person who understands the shirt would find it harmless, if not downright funny. Nevertheless, if the shirt caused more resentment among people who don’t get the joke than laughter among people who do, it wouldn’t be serving its purpose.

Your comments are appreciated. Thanks in advance!<

34 comments

  1. Cool. I want one.


  2. Nice job. I can definitely imagine runners buying these, and can't imagine them offending non-runners or McCain supporters too much. (If they're offended, they probably weren't going to vote for Obama anyway.) I'll expect to see tons of people wearing these shirts at races soon!


  3. You should put a cig in Obama's mouth.


  4. Any time that I see spikes on the heels of running shoes in a cartoon, I know that whoever drew it knows absolutely nothing about running.


  5. What you never heard of spikes and running?I'll be wearing spikes this sunday in a track meet and I run about 3 XC meets a year in spikes. Oh yeah I'm 53 YO so no young dude here.


  6. I want one too! Hurry!! Race season is upon us!!


  7. grainger you should really look at the placement of spikes on yours


  8. If Obama wins in November he will be one of the least athletic presidents in recent memory dating back to Richard Nixon.


  9. yeah, the rear spikes have to go. But I'd love to have one before my 100 miler Mid-July.


  10. It's a clever idea, you should go for it.I plan to vote for McCain, and don't find this offensive at all. If some extremely thin-skinned person somewhere takes offense, who cares? It's nice to be considerate, but you can't go through life trying to please everyone.Personally, I'd be surprised if either of those guys could finish a flat 5k in 30 minutes…


  11. I am offended… just because nobody else was. BTW, I think some Chinese or Japanese may take offense to O's charicture.


  12. I'd buy one. Please make sure they're available to us running expats in other countries!


  13. i'd buy one


  14. I'd buy one…or two or three!


  15. I'm with Rob Leder–it's hard to see how anybody could find this offensive, and if anyone does, the shirt isn't the problem. The shirt is cute–sell away!


  16. I find the general concept offensive. Maybe I'm being overly PC, but this is following along with the stereotype of african americans or africans in general being athletically superior to white people. The whole "kenyans are fast" thing is just another version of the stereotype when its presented in this fashion. I could go on, but thats the gist of my two cents


  17. Will it come in a singlet?If OB had rabbit ears and JM a tortoise shell would that make it PC for you Jem?


  18. Names appear below the comments, Matthew, not above. It's Joe's comment you're responding to.


  19. "Maybe I'm being overly PC, but this is following along with the stereotype of african americans or africans in general being athletically superior to white people. The whole "kenyans are fast" thing is just another version of the stereotype when its presented in this fashion." – Joe8 of the top 10 current male distance runners in the world are Kenyan, according to the rankings in this month's issue of Running Times. Can you name another country where a 2:05:49 marathoner (William Kipsang) is not fast enough to make the Olympic team?It's hard to see how referencing the fact that a small population hailing from the Rift Valley produces a freakishly disproportionate number of the world's great distance runners stereotypes black people in general. In fact, I think if anyone is stereotyping it's the person who interprets the reference as such. If someone said "Italians are [fill in the blank]", would you take them to task for stereotyping whites?


  20. Grainger: Good catch on the placement of the spikes. We can fix that.Daniel Andrews: Obama was and apparently still is a decent basketball player. Details are at: msnbc.msn.com/id/25186897/Kris: No problem!Joe: Thanks for your honesty. There is a generalization implicit in this cartoon, namely, "Kenyans are fast runners," which is not 100% true. (Not ALL Kenyans are fast….) But I'd like to think this is pretty inoffensive as generalizations go. More to the point, the cartoon is designed to poke fun at voters' (and the media's) focus on certain traits such as ethnicity, gender, age, etc. In this hypothetical running race, just as in the real-life presidential race, shouldn't we care most about the candidates' "training" and "fitness" for the task at hand?Matthew: Sorry, we have no plans to offer a singlet.


  21. Sorry if anyone thought that I was calling them out as ignorant, I meant it more as constructive criticism, but it didnt come out that way. Just a couple of points: 1. there are a number of factors or possible factors in why the kenyans (and ethiopians, eritreans, etc) have been so sucessful( genetics,elevation,lifestyle,economics, training methods, diet…). To joke about Obama being fast because of his kenyan blood is to single out the genetic portion of the formula.2. To those of us reading this blog, kenyan sucess in running is well-known. To the general public, probably not so much…What many people would see when they look at this cartoon is an african american that is stating that he has an advantage over his white counterpart because of his african descent.3. One can be aware of existing stereotypes without being in agreement with them.


  22. Joe: Thanks for the follow-up. I think your point #2 is a legitimate concern with the general public. If we go ahead with this shirt, perhaps the shirt should list a website (like runners4obama.com) that, in addition to accepting online orders, would explain the whole Kenyan runner thing. Maybe enraged non-runners would visit the website and be mollified by what they read?


  23. To those who know that Kenyans can be excellent distance runners and realize the race is not short, it is funny. But, in a way it suggests that you're choosing Obama because he's half Kenyan. Choice for President should depend on actual ideas and experience. Choice solely because of (either)ethnicity is REALLY stupid.


  24. Greg, do your tee shirt and don't explain it. People are going to get it and people aren't. I feel sorry for those who don't. Humor is in the eye of the beholder. Looking foward to seeing you on a run one of these days!!! 😉


  25. Greg, do your tee shirt and don't explain it. People are going to get it and people aren't. I feel sorry for those who don't. Humor is in the eye of the beholder. Looking foward to seeing you on a run one of these days!!! 😉


  26. I like it!! Greg, do your tee shirt and don't explain it. People are going to get it and people aren't. I feel sorry for those who don't. Humor is in the eye of the beholder. Looking foward to seeing you on a run one of these days!!! 😉


  27. I liked it so much I had to post 3 times!!!!!!!!


  28. I agree with Joe's points 1 through 3.Do you happen to know any Kenyans/ African Americans that you could ask about this? A bunch of white people replying to your question might not be the sample you're looking for.


  29. Erin: I do know a few African Americans. Perhaps I will ask them what they think.


  30. Hi Greg,a few comments.1) I think it would be more funny if they were both running, Obama ahead and looking fresh, with a nice stride; McCain behind, working hard, barely keeping up.2) don't worry about those who think you're stereotyping, or read more into it than there is to it (like "vote for Obama because he's faster / because he's Kenyan, etc.)3) If Kenyans are known around the world for anything, it's running.Yes, not all Kenyans are good runners – so what?Not all Germans are good engineers, drive 200km/h on the Autobahn and drink lots of beer while watching or playing Fussball.And no, I don't get offended if someone uses those sterotypes.4) Given their age, I'd be shocked if Obama couldn't beat McCain in a 5k pretty handily.5) Folks, lighten up! This cartoon is funny. Compared to the insults, half-truths and outright lies that are common in political campains (hopefully this year will be more civilized), this is NOTHING.Greg, don't be deterred by the PC nazis. (and yes, I realize that some are offended by trivial use of the word nazi – tought s***. If it's OK for Seinfeld, its OK for me)


  31. Isn't Obama an on again/off again smoker?


  32. Joe Kulak: Yes, I believe he is. But putting a cigarette in his mouth (as suggested by ronner above) might make him seem a little TOO confident….


  33. Then I think it'd be cool to have a cig. in his mouth, Mrs. McCain on his back, Michelle and John chasing, Bush shooting the starting gun and Bill and Hillary holding the finishing line tape.


  34. Cheney needs to fire the gun, Bush needs to be yelling, "mission accomplished".



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