win this

Originally uploaded by drewbo.
you can’t swing a dead cat in the outdoor world these days without hitting somebody spouting off about “growing participation”? in fact, I’ve done it myself (although, proudly, I’ve never been hit by a cat).

the thing is, the phrasing is a bit off the mark. and the more it gets repeated, the more it seems a bit ingenuous.

if we were truly concerned with “growing participation” then wouldn’t we all be proudly selling stuff at WalMart? after all, what better partner could their be in a mass outreach program than the world’s biggest mass merchant?

of course, we know we don’t want to go down that road, because what the bulk of the outdoor industry really wants is to grow a certain kind of outdoor participation ... the “right kind.”

unfortunately, if we started going around issuing studies and press releases about our desire to “grow participation, but only from the right kind of people” we’d be painted as elitist wankers. and nobody likes being painted.

so what are we doing if we’re not striving to “grow participation” ?

let’s see ... we have some who rally their base with red meat messaging designed to froth up their core participants. we have others striving for broad-based support with a water-thin message. and we can all see a huge volume of undecided participants out there who just can’t get off the fence to decide between their Tivo and their tent.

it seems the outdoor marketplace has entered a never-ending election where the old terms are as rusty as the car in Casey Sheahan’s garage.

we’re not “growing participation” anymore ... instead, we’re battling to “win” it.

yes, honey, this isn't business anymore. it’s politics.

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