Specialized has donated $1,000 to a Seattle bike shop damaged in a gas explosion to say “sorry” after contractors mistakenly put up posters advertising the US-based brand’s bikes on a hoarding protecting the front of the shop while repairs take place.
G&O Family Cyclery, which is not a Specialized dealer, tweeted a picture of the poster, which said “better bikes come from better bike shops,” prompting an apology from Specialized as well as the unexpected donation to a crowdfunding initiative aimed at helping the small business recover.
— G&O Family Cyclery (@GoFamilyCyclery) April 5, 2016
In a comment on the Go Fund Me website, where more than $43,000 of the $45,000 target has now been reached, Specialized said:
Hello G&O Family Cyclery, we hope you accept our donation to rebuild, and continue to make a positive impact on families and cyclists in your community.
We are deeply sorry for the regrettably placed poster on your shop earlier this week. As you are aware at this point, our team had worked with an outside agency to put up posters on vacant buildings and by a stroke of bad luck and an uninformed street team, the poster was placed.
We want to reinforce that this was in no way intentional or malicious, and instead an honest mistake. We are taking the appropriate actions to have it removed immediately.
We very much respect and stand strong with local bike shops such as yours, as owners like you are what keep the bicycle culture thriving. Regardless of bike, brand, or location, we want to see local bike shops succeed and continue to serve their communities. – The Team at Specialized.
The firm that put the advertising up has since matched Specialized’s donation, saying:
The posterGIANT team is honored to contribute to your rebuild and we hope you'll accept this donation. We regret any part in this misunderstanding and we look forward to seeing you back in business as soon possible.
Specialized’s global marketing manager, Erick Marcheschi, told the Seattle Bike Blog: “I feel bad about it, it was 100% not intentional.”
He said the company contracted to put up the posters in Seattle and elsewhere was ”looking to opportunities where there are plywood surfaces they can put these wheatpastings on,” adding, “it’s really unfortunate that this was one of those surfaces.”
As one of the biggest players in the global bike industry with local operations in a number of countries worldwide, the odd public relations gaffe is perhaps inevitable, but ones made by Specialized do seem to attract particular scrutiny.
In 2013, the brand was criticised on social media after its lawyers attempted to get a bike shop in Alberta to change its name from Café Roubaix, claiming – apparently incorrectly, as it turned out – that Specialized owned the rights to the Roubaix trademark in countries including Canada.
Following widespread calls for a boycott of its products, the company’s founder and majority shareholder, Mike Sinyard, visited the bike shop in person to apologise.
Perhaps as a result of the negative publicity that episode caused, the business seem more disposed now to listen to its critics, as happened last month when pictures circulated on social media showing models at a bike show in Berlin dressed as Playboy Bunnies flanking a Specialized e-bike produced in partnership with the adult entertainment brand.
Specialized said the marketing initiative had been undertaken by its German subsidiary without the approval of its headquarters in the United States, and subsequently confirmed the limited edition bike would not be sold.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.