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Specialized apologizes for ‘better bike shop’ ad on wreckage of Greenwood bike shop

Photo from G&O Family Cyclery
Photo from G&O Family Cyclery

The bicycle giant Specialized apologized today after G&O Family Cyclery tweeted photos of a street advertising campaign pasted on the wreckage of their former Greenwood shop that says, “BETTER BIKES COME FROM BETTER BIKE SHOPS.”

G&O was severely damaged in a major gas explosion a month ago, prompting a big community effort to raise money to help the shop find a new location and keep its expert staff (including a fundraiser organized by this blog, Peddler Brewing and Familybike Seattle). G&O recently announced a new temporary location a block north on Greenwood Ave.

“I feed bad about it,” said Erick Marcheschi, Global Marketing Manager at Specialized. “It was 100 percent not intentional.”

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Marcheschi said the company contracts with street advertising companies in several cities including Seattle. Specialized provides the artwork for the ads, but the contracted companies (in this case Poster Giant) finds and chooses the locations.

“They’re looking to opportunities where there are plywood surfaces they can put these wheatpastings on,” said Marcheschi. “It’s really unfortunate that this was one of those surfaces.”

He has contacted Poster Giant to have them remove the ads as soon as possible.

“We stand pretty firm behind independent bike dealers,” said Marcheschi, which is why he said he “feels like an asshole” that this happened to the former G&O shop.

G&O is not a Specialized dealer.

The plywood covered in Greenwood were covered in community-generated murals following the explosion, many of which have since been covered by these and other ads. KUOW has a great roundup of the Greenwood murals from back when they were created.

I gave a question out to Poster Giant and will update if I hear back.

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38 responses to “Specialized apologizes for ‘better bike shop’ ad on wreckage of Greenwood bike shop”

  1. John

    The storefront that these posters are on was damaged in the gas explosion that evicted G&O, but is not the G&O store front. It’s around the corner.

  2. Hi John,
    Davey Oil, from G&O here.
    That is actually not correct. The storefront in the picture above was our second entrance, for our service area. We had just opened that entrance a few weeks before the explosion, so you may not have been aware of it.

    1. John

      Hey Davey,

      So sorry to hear about misfortune striking so soon after expanding into the your space, and apologies about my earlier comment.

      Thanks for building an amazing business by and for Greenwood families. People like you are what make Seattle amazing!

    2. Hi John!
      You are so sweet!
      Don’t worry about it! Fact-checking in these kinds of things is super important.
      It was our back door, basically, and while we were planning to open it as a customer entrance (would have been this week, actually :( ) most folks would not have known that that storefront was part of G&O.
      Thanks for the nice words! We’ll be opening in our Summer Home location, one block North, by the middle of next week. Come and say hi!

  3. Jonathan

    Weird, does Poster Giant get permission from the building owner, or do they just paste signs on private property without asking? If the latter, I would find it surprising that a company could do business like that and not get prosecuted. But maybe I am naïve.

  4. Marge Evans

    Poster Giant is always effen things up.

  5. ronp

    It annoys me to no end that this is an illegal sign company that is creating blight in our neighborhoods and a large corporation is funding it. The owners of Poster Giant should be in jail. Their customers should be fined.

    The only reason these “ads” stay up is because the city does not have funds to enforce the signage code.

    I am sorry for the bike shop too.

  6. Fnarf

    Poster Giant have always been scum of the lowest sort.

    So have Specialized, for that matter. I’m surprised they haven’t sued G&O for having an O in their name, just like their precious S-Works line. And Venge has a G in it — that’s a trademark!

  7. Van Wolf

    Call me skeptical but Specialized has pulled some pretty…let’s just say strange, stuff as of late, like their “Playboy” bike displayed with “bunnies,” so maybe I’m just cynical, but I’d rather be that than gullible.
    (for those that missed it, http://singletrackworld.com/2016/03/specialized-playboy-bunnies-cause-social-media-storm/)
    That Specialized even engages in this form of advertising is bad enough, I hate that they covered up the murals which was an act of love, something Specialized clearly knows very little about.
    I realize I’m not Specialized’s market, clearly they only want to appeal to men, and a very specific kind of man, but I do interact with those they try to reach, and my advice to them will be to STAY THE HELL OFF SPECIALIZED BIKES, or second hand sell any ones they might have about.
    Someday bikes will get the advertising they deserve, but it is clearly not this day.

    1. Sean

      I realize that you’re venting here, but I feel I need to point out that the Specialized dude apologized up and down over this. Also, I’m not sure what sort of “very specific kind of man” you’re referring to. They makes women’s specific bikes, and a whole lot of different styles besides just road racing. My wife has a Vita that she’s really happy with.

      1. Van Wolf

        An apology has very little weight with me, “the Specialized dude,” (Erick Marcheschi) made a conscious choice to advertise in this manner, which is; environmentally detrimental, aesthetically displeasing, fail as actual marketing techniques, (seriously, a PINK bike for your SIGNIFICANT OTHER? SMH), and in this instance incredibly insensitive. A combination of which, argues for very little forethought in the action.
        Now, the nature of business is crap rolls downhill, so Marcheschi” is either entirely culpable for his choice, or apologizing on behalf of the management who dictated this choice. Experience tells me that its probably the latter, so, again the apology carries no actual weight with me. Because, like the ‘Bunny Incident,’ its a case of “I’m sorry I got caught,” not an apology for the action. They aren’t sorry their ad is sexist, or that they are causing environmental damage, they aren’t sorry their ad puts down other shops as a general by line, and they aren’t sorry that this is their general method of advertisement. They’re just sorry they did it in the one place that might get more people angry than usual.
        I understand why “a very specific kind of guy,” bothered you, we all like to identify with our bikes in various ways, and nobody wants to be associated with terrible people. Put it like this; you’ve been pals with someone for 10 yrs. You think you know them pretty well, and they even married one of your own family members. Then, at one gathering, your friend starts spouting some very awful opinions. Everyone is looking at you both, your friend for being a jerk, and you for bringing him, and your family in a terrible light. Your friend apologies, but everyone at the party still keeps their distance. Later, one of your other friend says, hey, I’ve also known your friend’s friends, they spout terrible crap all the time, so I’m not surprised, but I sure am angry you are noticing this now.
        You don’t see your friend any different because, guys, they apologized, okay? And my family still likes him!
        Specialized has a real problematic history with sexism. And the implication in this particular ad that your partner would prefer a pink bike equates to ‘you’ as a male shopper, probably straight, and that your ‘significant other,’ and you can work out your problems with shiny objects.
        I know nobody wants to be “that rider,” but well, its a specific kind of guy who doesn’t care if an ad is sexist or not.
        I’m not saying just because you own a Specialized you fall into this category. But, dude, your ‘friend’ spouted some awful crap, and as someone whose seen your friend around without you, they aren’t very nice. Maybe you should get them out of your family, I can’t say, its your call, and you know them better than I do, I just see them around.
        Just as a final note, though, Specialized didn’t apologize to G&O, Erick Marcheschi just said he “felt bad,” and “felt like an asshole,” that’s not an apology, and it certainly wasn’t directed at the ones they wronged, http://familycyclery.com/specialized-how-rude/ (reposting Davey’s link) That’s not apologizing up and down, that’s just crap rolling down hill.

  8. Gordon

    Sounds like Specialized should make good on their mistake and donate to G&O: https://www.gofundme.com/n7tmv4xg

  9. bill

    This is almost funny. Too late for an April 1 story. Maybe Specialized will buy G&O a big sign that says BETTER THAN EVER.

  10. […] from the Seattle Bike Blog did his reporter thing and got a few embarrassed quotes from a marketing person at Specialized. The guy calls himself […]

    1. Van Wolf

      Thank you for the update! I appreciate hearing that they have reached out and apologized, and even better, donated to the GoFundMe account.

  11. Andres Salomon

    Yeah, no. You hire someone to illegally put up posters all over a city, you own up to it. It’s not something you feel bad about.

  12. Kat Reinhart

    Wow. This is the first I have heard of this and I am the marketing coordinator for Gregg’s Cycles, the largest Specialized (and Trek, Cannondale, and others) dealer nearby. This is NOT something we endorsed or had any part of, and needless to say I will be having a conversation with our regional rep about this tomorrow morning.

    Not good. ?

    1. Kat Reinhart

      I just got off the phone with our rep. He had just come from meeting with Davey, and it sounds like there should be a formal apology (from Mike Sinyard himself), along with a “sizeable” donation to the GoFundMe, coming later today. The decision to hire Poster Giant was certainly questionable and I hope that that will never happen again, since it reflects poorly on us as retailers as well as on the big S brand. Even our rep was unaware that this campaign was taking place, Poster Giant claims to be unaware that the building was a bike shop. All in all this is hugely unfortunate for everyone involved.

      As the largest local Specialized dealer, Gregg’s is a family owned, local business, and while we do carry large national brands (like Specialized), we are and always have been as local as anyone, having been at the same streetcorner near Greenlake since 1932, and we exist within the same ecosystem and are part of the same community as G&O. We carry Specialized bikes, parts, clothing and accessories, in part because they have been committed to supporting independent brick & mortar retailers from the very beginning, and partly because they back up their high-quality products with a substantial guarantee/warranty that enables us to take care of our customers. While they (the Big S) have come under fire for their brand protection actions, the sad fact is that in light of the counterfeit black and grey market, this type of action is necessary in many situations to protect consumers – not just the brand – from low-quality, dangerous merchandise. And as Sean pointed out above, they do make a great variety of high quality bicycles for nearly every rider – male, female, young, old, fast, leisurely, dirt, pavement, and in between. What they and most other large manufacturers do not do – and what shops like Gregg’s can’t do well – is manufacture, distribute, assemble and sell a large variety of family, tandem, and cargo bikes, which is why G&O is such an important part of our community. Could G&O handle the volume of people needing bikes, bike stuff & bike labor on a sunny Saturday at the corner of 70th and Greenlake and sell upwards of 40-60 bikes a day? Nope. That’s our ‘niche’. Could we (Gregg’s) focus on family and cargo bikes? Yes, but we’d have to sacrifice a big part of our warehouse, sales floor and operations to accommodate that – which doesn’t make business sense for a shop that employs ~160 people in the greater Seattle area. Both big brands and niche brands are necessary to serve (and grow!) the whole cycling community – and isn’t everyone’s goal here to get more people out on bikes and having fun, and out of their cars and traffic, help the environment and improve health?

      Bottom line: This was a very unfortunate placement of an ill-conceived marketing campaign by a brand in an effort to support local bike shops. Hopefully their efforts to make it right will end up strengthening G&O more, and help us all get back to the job at hand of putting more people on more, better bikes.

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        Thanks, Kat! And thanks for keeping up in the loop.

      2. RTK

        I have no problem with Specialized being aggressive against black market / grey market / open mold goods. Unfortunately, they have also been overly aggressive when small goods manufactures build products that fairly compete against Specialized and clearly do not use Specialized protected designs. They know that they don’t need to win in a court of law against these businesses, they only need to make the cash poor companies spend large sums defending themselves. This has been part of their game plan for years.

    1. Kat

      In all fairness, we should recall how that incident ended as well:

      And for an in-depth exploration of *why* Specialized has to pursue its trademarks so aggressively, this is a good read: http://www.bicycling.com/bikes-gear/components/catch-counterfeiter-sketchy-world-fake-bike-gear

      1. Zim

        The only reason that story ended the way it did was because of the outrage generated. Sinyard “felt bad” because of the negative international attention being received, not because he thought his legal department was doing anything wrong.

        One less Specialized here, forever.

  13. ronp

    thanks Kat, please let them know Poster Giant is illegally defacing public and private property and should never be hired by Specialized.

  14. Specialized has apologized and posted a large donation to our Save G&O Fund. https://www.gofundme.com/n7tmv4xg

  15. ronp

    I attempted to complain about Poster Giant (really Specialized needs to watch who they hire but they are doing the right thing in apologizing and donating).

    Unfortunately the BBB replied to my complaint in the following manor —

    Dear (“complainer guy”):

    Thank you for contacting Better Business Bureau (BBB) regarding your complaint.

    This message is in regard to your complaint submitted on 4/6/2016 against Poster Giant Inc. Your complaint was assigned ID 1131.

    BBB regrets to inform you that, after a thorough review of your correspondence, we are unable to process your complaint. Please refer to the information below to determine the reasoning for the complaint closure.

    ( ) Duplicate complaint
    ( X) No marketplace interaction to warrant filing a complaint.
    ( ) Consumer did not provide sufficient information.
    ( ) Complaint contained inappropriate language.
    ( ) Complaint was illegible.
    ( ) Consumer failed to provide necessary clarification.

    Should you need to provide additional information to BBB, please do so in writing making sure to include your above referenced complaint number. If you choose to file a new complaint because your original was illegible or contained profanity, please do so via our website at http://www.bbb.org/alaskaoregonwesternwashington

    If this complaint was considered to be invalid due to insufficient information regarding the business and/or you feel this may be a potential scam, please feel free to submit all pertinent information to our Scam Tracker at https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/alaskaoregonwesternwashington/


    Penny Marquart
    BBB Resolutions Consultant

  16. Ints

    At first I wanted to defend Specialized because I ride an ’84 Stumpjumper I bought new as a high school senior (yes, I’m that young) as my daily commuter and it is a good bike to ride. However, when you read about the history of mountain bikes in the fantastic book by Charlie Kelley, titled Fat Tire Flyer, page 131 basically describes the transformation of Specialized from an importer of Japanese components to a bicycle manufacturer with their first Stumpjumers in 1982.
    The short of it: Mike Sinyard bought a handful of Tom Ritchey framesets in 1981, took them to Taiwan and in 1982, debuted their own Stumpjumper MTB and this was the beginning of the company we all know and love today.
    Even though this bike has been a big part of my life for a long time, I’m seriously considering unloading it because of the ethics of the manufacturer.

    1. Ints

      Their Stumpjumper was a mass production copy of Tom’s awesome handcrafted framesets.

    2. Thanks for the mention of my book. Minor correction, The Richey/MountainBikes were not sent to Taiwan to be reverse engineered, but to Japan.

  17. […] to the Seattle Bike Blog, Specialized’s global marketing manager Erick Marcheschi has apologised and now donated money […]

  18. Dave

    Seems like the best thing Specialized could do as an apology would be to give G&O special dealer status as in, no minimums, any merchandise to floor any time they want it. Give them a hand up, in other words. I can’t think of an urban bike store that couldn’t sell a bunch of Specialized Armadillo tires, for instance.

  19. […] the latest marketing gaff from Specialized, the company apologizes for putting up posters saying “Better bikes come from better bike shops” on a boarded-up non-Specialized dealer, after […]

  20. I have worked with Poster Giant for many years and I have found them to be a decent company to work with. They do street style marketing and mainly postering on poles and the like that are established outlets. There are a lot of independent promoters like me that can’t afford to buy print ads and the affordable service Poster Giant provides is awesome. They sell custom over sized postering services also- it sounds like this is what this job was.

    I am sure they would never have done anything like this intentionally, it’s way over the top bad karma and the like. Poster Giant are not the devil, but obviously made a bad mistake here, which will be addressed professionally by all parties concerned it sounds like. Davey’s bike shop is, and will continue to be a cherished place in every true bikers heart and soul- it will grow back bigger and better than everin the coming months.

    1. Stef

      Peter, you don’t seem to be picking up what everyone is laying down.

      Yes, it is unfortunate what happened here – as you say, it was an “unintentional” that a destroyed bike shop was defaced with a bike ad that covered artwork, but everyone’s indignation lies in the fact that the only way this company can fulfill its mission in life is to deface public property. You are using the word “unintentional” in reference to defacing this particular establishment after such a tragic event, but putting that aside, the fact is this was an INTENTIONAL defacing of property that did not belong to them. Even it is was public space, even if it was a boarded up building – IT DID NOT BELONG TO THEM AND THEY DID NOT PAY THE OWNER FOR THE LEGAL RIGHT TO USE IT FOR ADVERTISING.

      Defending them by saying that didn’t mean to deface this establishment because they usually deface public property is not a a defense. Nobody has the right to deface public property (or even boarded up property). And you a business owner, saying you cannot afford legal advertising also does not give you the right to contract with people who deface public property using your money. Poles are not “established outlets” (I’m not even sure what you mean by this phrase – I guess you are saying they are things that people typically use to deface public property with their own advertising). Poles are public property and most of want to see our public spaced uncluttered and clean.

      And if you read the article, you would have seen this is not a small company who cannot afford marketing. I’m sure most of us give leeway to people using these “established outlets” to advertise for local things like lost/found pets, yard sales, small local events (but we do wish they were taken down when not needed any more), but we do not condone a large I assume multi-million dollar company being too cheap to pay for advertising that does not deface our neighborhood!

    2. Mark

      Poster Giant obviously were in the wrong here. I’m glad they donated. While I understand what you’re saying Peter and in some ways I do like seeing the “urban” look of bunches of repeated posters, I am amazed that Poster Giant gets away with what they do. If I own some building that’s being remodeled so the windows are boarded, they can just come by and paste up 30 posters? What if I complained that I prefer the raw look of plywood and told them to take it down? How would they respond?

      Looking at their website, it makes my skin crawl with their talk of “targeting hip, young demographics”…

  21. Ballard Resident

    Those stupid posters got pasted to a building near the D line bus stop on W Prospect St.

    Not buy anything from a company that does advertising like that.

  22. BMC009

    Looks like Specialized and PosterGiant have both donated $1000 to the GoFundMe campaign.


    Erick Marcheschi
    2 days ago
    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

    Doug Cox
    1 day ago
    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.

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