Thank goodness for Lululemon. The Vancouver retailer, founded by irreverent guy Chip Wilson, has come up with an antidote to the no-fun attitude of the Vancouver Olympic Committee. And it’s about time!
They are the Olympic “Games,” but to date there has been no spirit of play from VANOC, which has been grimly pushing the citizens of this city around in the name of protecting the brand, even coming down like a ton of bricks on a hapless Greek restaurant that’s been doing business on Denman for decades.
So when Lululemon launched its “Cool Sporting Event that Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 and 2011 Edition” Monday, neatly blocking any legal avenue VANOC could use to retaliate, the oppressed masses of Vancouver took to dancing in the streets.
Lululemon’s cheeky response to VANOC’s neurotic obsession is brilliant because it works on so many levels. In a single stroke of guerrilla marketing, Lululemon has captured the headlines during the most important retail season of the year and has bolstered its own brand — irreverent, smart, out there, human.
Unlike poor old Hudson Bay Co., which has so far gathered mostly grief for its own line of Olympic gear, even managing to offend First Nations with its ersatz Cowichan sweater. Best of all, Chip and his gang took a free poke in Darth VANOC’s eye while the rest of us cowered beneath the yoke of its world-class oppression.
Of course, Darth has responded true to form, with all the humour of a hemorrhoid, grumbling about how it is disappointed and expected better sportsmanship from Lululemon.
Look: We all realize VANOC has an enormous responsibility to bring the Games in on budget and protect its contractual obligations. But you can also argue that it has undermined the Olympic spirit by ruthlessly stomping on the faintest hint of disobedience.
So it’s not surprising that the oppressed masses, fed up with Olympic restrictions of every description, have risen as one to applaud the cheeky monkeys at Lululemon.
If VANOC was smart, it would just shrug and smile and give Chip Wilson its Hero of the Soviet Award, or whatever its highest honour is called. He has restored the spirit of the Olympic Games just as it was about to be crushed under a pile of rules, restrictions and fake Cowichan sweaters.
But that would be too much like fun. And fun is the one thing VANOC’s money and lawyers can’t seem to buy.