Repulsed? Or Empulse?

Recently, a twitter user by the name of @billsvision had this to say about the use of the Brammo Babes in recent photos that emerged from the Red Bull Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway, Laguna Seca:

For a 'NEW' Motorcycle company, this is repulsive. “@ESXMotorsports: Check out the Empulse w/ the Brammo-ettes http://bit.ly/a7UItI

The “offending” picture is this one … prepare to be repulsed:

Being married to @MsBrammofan, I am, perhaps, more sensitive than most to the issues behind the objectification of women.  I am also the father of two girls.  I realize that there are at least a couple ways to look at this situation:

1. These women are victims of men’s oppression of women.  They are being objectified and are mere props, posed in sexually suggestive ways to draw attention to a product.

2. These women are shrewd businesswomen, leveraging the power of their beauty, talent, and physical fitness to earn money for themselves.  When people say things like, “you’re a victim” or “you only do this because you have low self-esteem” or “you’re doing a disservice to women and the equality movement” they think to themselves, “I’m crying inside . . . all the way to the bank.”

So, dear Brammofan readers, what’s your take?  Are they oppressed, or impressive?  And, after the poll, add your thoughts about whether it’s right or wrong for Brammo to use “sex” to sell “new” motorcycles.

UPDATE:  Video just released of the Brammo Babes in action at Mazda Raceway, a wretched hive of scum and villainy if I’ve ever seen one:

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  1. #1 by Susanna on August 2, 2010 - 5:54 pm

    As a former model and shrewd businesswoman with a fairly strong pulse on the Zeigeist of the generation that could be my daughters….

    These women are not victims, they’re getting paid well to glorify what they work HARD to maintain. We (the older ones) have proven we’re capable of succeeding in business, being seen as more than just hot bodies, so the younger generation are enjoying the best of both worlds- being able to show off their natural assets then grow up, go back to college, and start a business.

    While the old double standard still exists in dating, it’s not quite as strong in the workplace. Yes, women still earn less than their male counterparts (except in modeling, of course), but we no longer have to put up with co-workers like Freddy Rumsen telling us we should get married.

    This was a very important marketing strategy. Electric motorcycles need to move out of the “computer geek on a slow bike” niche and gain mainstream appeal. The best way to do that (short of inventing a .01 ounce battery which will last 1,000,000,000 miles on a charge while constantly riding at 300mph and cost nothing) is to show that electric bikes can be just as sexy as noisy, dirty bikes.

    While the bike itself is not as sexy as Czysz’s bike (As much as I WANT an Empulse, it’s true), did that matter? NO. All those men that were so stoked to catch that photo shoot have gone on to share the photos with their friends, and now everyone is wondering what this new bike is and why hot chicks dig it so much more.

    Reason #1- no more muffler burns! (Sure, nobody ever rides around in shorts…)
    Reason #2- he can actually hear you giggle with delight
    Reason #3- electric bikes are better for new riders as they’re easier to learn. So for all of you guys whining about how you can’t meet women who actually ride, this is a real bonus.

    Welcome to the new feminism, where women are allowed to create their own values instead of being forced into “society’s” idea about what gives a woman worth.

  2. #2 by Jeremy (EmpulseBuyer) on August 2, 2010 - 6:12 pm

    Its just part of the Moto GP, TTXGP, etc. culture. They are no different than paddock babes and grid girls. Just about every motorcycle company has em. That guy needs to find something else to complain about.

  3. #3 by Jensen Beeler on August 2, 2010 - 7:25 pm

    There’s a great interaction on the show Mad Men that I thought of when I saw the Brammo Babes…

    Peggy Olson: Sex sells.

    Don Draper: Says who? Just so you know, the people who talk that way think that monkeys can do this. They take all this monkey crap and stick it in a briefcase, completely unaware that their success depends on something more than shoeshine.

    Don Draper: You are the product. You feeling something. That’s what sells. Not them. Not sex. They can’t do what we do and they hate us for it.

    Putting a half naked girl next to a product is a really effective way to get people to notice you. However, I’m not sure it’s the best way to make people buy your product.

    • #4 by Brett on August 3, 2010 - 3:26 pm

      Take what Don Draper says and reverse it and you will have the truth about advertising.

      It has corrupted our best cultural talent and is nothing more than a modern form of pollution.

      Peggy Olson got it right in one. Sex sells. Pure and simple. Everything else is commentary, window dressing and people in overpriced business suits working their asses off to convince other people in slightly less expensive business suits that their advertising is the best.

  4. #5 by Jon on August 3, 2010 - 12:15 am

    OK for the most part I see no problem with this photo shoot. As Sussana suggests, these are the times we live in. However, I think the upper left portion of the photo is a little too over the top with the girl on the bike in a sexually explicit position.

  5. #6 by Kelly on August 3, 2010 - 5:15 am

    Interesting discussion. As a man (despite the girl’s name) I like looking at the girls a bit, as many men do. And I understand all the marketing stuff that goes along with it, and the appeal and everybody does it. I in no way think these models are victims of anything other than being in a society that is obsessed with sex and sexiness and using sex as a marketing tool.

    But, I do actually think it is a distraction from the message of the company. This is only my personal feelings and I suspect that I am in the minority. So, I don’t think it is wrong, and I don’t think they are victims of anything other than a society that is puritanical on one hand and sex obsessed on the other hand.

    However, I think there could be a way of being a little different in the approach of using sex or girls to sell these bikes. Even if it was from an environmental sexy theme which included girls with incredible bodies. Maybe something just a little classier.

    But again, I’m not a 20 something hormone motivated guy looking for a bike that can do 100 mph with one of those girls on the back of the bike.

  6. #7 by Terry on August 3, 2010 - 8:58 am

    @billvision is entitled to his opinion. And if it means he won’t buy an Empulse because of the Ads, so be it. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize @billvision is in the extreme minority of folks still living in the 19th (not even 20th) century.

    One of my best friends does exactly this type of work, and she now makes in 3 days what she used to make all month at her restaurant job. Don’t feel sorry for these girls. They probably make more than you do.

    The type of guy who would be excited by a fast motorcycle, is also the type of guy who would be excited by a beautiful girl. Cars/motorcycles and models have gone hand in hand for decades for exactly this very reason.

    When @billvision parks his Buick and decides to cancel his AARP membership, perhaps he will see this is perfectly acceptable, and a good business decision that will both help the company, and the potential consumers appreciate as well. A win win for everyone. Except Bill and the few other conservative nursing home residents.

    • #8 by Ted Dillard on August 3, 2010 - 9:17 am

      “The type of guy who would be excited by a fast motorcycle, is also the type of guy who would be excited by a beautiful girl.”

      …ummmmm What about the type of woman who would be a potential buyer? hmmm?

      I’ve seen this in the photo business for decades… the industry totally ignores the women who are their customers, most of whom buy the product in spite of, in with disgust for these traditions.

      Extreme minority? Want to hazard a guess at what the single largest potential market for new motorcycle buyers is?

      (ducks, runs away… heading for the geritol, I think it’s in the back seat of the Buick…)

      • #9 by Terry on August 3, 2010 - 9:26 am

        True, but as Sussana said above and most girls will tell you as well. They all appreciate looking at other pretty girls too. So this Ad campaign will sell motorcycles to women as well as men. Basically it attracts your attention no matter who you are, despite if your alzheimers has caused you to forget if you ever rode a motorcycle before.

        And you’re right, there is a huge market in women riders, and not a ton of options for them. I’m helping someone 5’3″ and 100 pounds learn to ride right now. Finding a good bike for her was not easy. If there was a Enertia available here in FL I could have gotten quiclky, I would definitely have used that.

        I appologize fot the sarcasm in the post Ted, but I think you can tell this one ruffled my feathers a little.

      • #10 by Voyager on August 4, 2010 - 12:54 pm

        I’m guessing, but I suspect the majority of the folk at Laguna Seca were not potential female buyers. They were male sports bike riders who would be used to seeing scantly dressed girls used for advertising ‘hot’ bikes.

        I think Brammo were making the campaign suit the customers they could expect to address at the race weekend.

        (I’d just like to be able to buy a Brammo in the UK! I don’t care how it is advertised!)

      • #11 by brammofan on August 4, 2010 - 1:51 pm

        Hey @Voyager – re: wanting to buy one in the UK. Stay tuned, be patient, and let’s think positively. If I were a betting man, I’d say within 3 months.

        • #12 by Voyager on August 4, 2010 - 3:02 pm

          I hope so. But the folks at Vectrix seem to have got into all sorts of problems trying to ramp up production and deal with export markets.

          Given the Brammo is being made in limited volume (and I presume that compared to the big manufacturers it is) I expect that they will endeavour to satisfy your home market before starting shipping exports.

  7. #13 by Ted Dillard on August 3, 2010 - 9:36 am

    Yep, mine as well, actually, and I’m trying to behave. 🙂

    For example- “women”, not “girls”… and I learned a very long time ago not to generalize about what most women want.

    As I posted on Twitter- I would have voted for the leather road-warrior Battlestar Galactica look- Strong, powerful women in control. Same attention, completely different message.

    Oh crap, my pacemaker just shorted out thinking about that…

    • #14 by Terry on August 3, 2010 - 10:00 am

      Haha, I don’t have a pace maker, but will need one if you keep making me laugh this hard. 🙂 As far as the Mission Model, you’re right. That is classy, and I too probably prefer the classy look versus the “slutty” look. Not that the Brammo models look like that at all, I was just setting the range.

      But Susanna (sorry for mispelling your name above, I subconsciously spelled it like Jon above spelled it as I read his post last) mentioned the biggest point:

      The shock value. That these electric bikes are fast, and not to be associated with anything conservative at all! This was necessary to break the association to Vespas and Scooters that women like this would not be interested in. As she said not the “computer geek on a slow bike” image. And I think pushing the risqueness of the shoot was necessary to attract the attention of current riders of motorcycles that have preconceived notions that electric motorcycles are too slow. Haha, I heard a friend of a friend mention that 2 days ago. Can’t wait till he sees the photoshoot pictures! Ok…back to work…; )

      • #15 by Ted Dillard on August 3, 2010 - 10:17 am

        Shock value? This is exactly what I’m sayin’.

        Girls in little suits? Seen it. Badass Post-Apocalypse Road Warrior Galactica Girlz? Now THAT is something I haven’t seen…

        BTW, my card-carrying gun-totin’ Democrat Feminist Liberal intelligent elite badass sci-fi hatin’ WIFE LOVEs Battlestar Galactica. Wanna know why?

        Strong powerful women.

  8. #16 by Domenick on August 3, 2010 - 9:56 am

    While I’m sure there are bound to be differing opinions about this, I just thought I’d mention those outfits were actually designed by one of the models.

    • #17 by skadamo on August 3, 2010 - 10:16 am

      Kelly Nishimoto. my mind broke into song. “she’s a genius with a mohawk, if only we could talk”

      People said I was smart and needed to get into computers. I did it instead of persuing my dream of being a professional mountain biker by day and model by night. I was exploited.

      These girls are professionals.

  9. #18 by ParisNichole on August 3, 2010 - 10:25 am

    These women are models, they are not Naked Spread eagle across a bike! They are cute and sexy dressed in outfits most self confident women would love to wear (or be able to get away with wearing)! They are “just doing their jobs” but I bet they freaking love their jobs, just as I do! The only ones offended are the ones that are jealous that they can’t look that way, or their wives don’t! No I would hang this up as a poster in a young Childs room, I’m sure there are other logos or bramo photos he can look at. Be a parent and moderate what he sees.

    Sighned,
    A fellow Model that loves her job, loves Jessica, and loves this picture!

    • #19 by Terry on August 3, 2010 - 10:48 am

      Nicely put Paris. It would be inappropriate to hang these on the church walls for Sunday service or in a childs room like you said, but in the right place might get that mid 20’s guy with a gas powered sportbike to take a closer look at electric motorcycles, that he previously had decided he would never consider, if he saw this poster at the local bike shop.

  10. #20 by brammofan on August 3, 2010 - 10:34 am

    I have to say that even though MsBrammofan may have initially rolled her eyes, bit her tongue, and thought it was a step backwards for women’s rights when she first spied the BBs, she admitted later on that it really drew a lot of people (men, women and children) into the Brammo tent. We spent a good portion of the weekend hanging with the BBs and they were all really sweet, very intelligent, and for the most part aware of the historical aspect of being some of the first models photographed on electric motorcycles. Kelly Nishimoto (the model who also designed the costumes) was a riot, by the way, and we both looked forward to the next outrageous thing that would come out of her mouth. She never disappointed.

    • #21 by Ted Dillard on August 3, 2010 - 10:38 am

      “BBs”? So you’re officially accepting “BrammoBabes”?

      😀

      • #22 by brammofan on August 3, 2010 - 10:40 am

        Accepting “BrammoBabes?” I coined the term long ago, bud.
        😀 It’s trademarked, licensed, and every time someone says or writes it, I get a royalty check.

  11. #23 by Ted Dillard on August 3, 2010 - 10:43 am

    Thank GOD. “Brammoettes” is so, uh, so…

  12. #24 by Jennifer on August 3, 2010 - 11:22 am

    As someone who was at the event all weekend and hung out with the women I might have a different perspective. These women were paid and new exactly what they were getting themselves into. The majority of people at the races were men so appealing to them was very savvy. I did see a large amount of wives taking pictures of their husband with the Brammoettes. These “spokeswomen” are part of these kind of events. With Brammo not having the huge, expensive tent that most of the other motorcycle companies had these women were a great way for us to get people into the tent. Overall, the women did a great job of attracting attention to a segment of the motorcycle market that might not be getting as much attention or respect it deserves as of yet!!!

  13. #25 by Domenick on August 3, 2010 - 11:28 am

    Does your notion of “long time ago” precede the 26th of July, Mr BrammoFan (if that really is your name).

    If not then perhaps those copyright millions should be forwarded to the account of the (very talented and quite handsome (in a James Taylor way)) writer who referred to them, most brilliantly, as the Brammo babe brigade only a couple paragraphs after he had already indulged in the triple alliterative “Brammo-branded beauties.” N’est pas?

    http://green.autoblog.com/2010/07/26/brammo-empulserr-looks-pretty-racy-doesnt-race-yet/

    If so then disregard all that crap.

  14. #28 by Mary Gombas on August 3, 2010 - 11:42 am

    When I first saw the video I was a little shocked. Why? Why do you need babes to sell THIS product? It’s so demeaning to the “girls” and to the company for that matter. It’s the beginning of change in this industry, change should happen in other ways as well, be a trend setter, don’t follow the old crowd.

    The bike does not need “hot Babes” to get attention or to sell the product. That is the only reason they are there. It doesn’t seem to me to be a good fit. Can any of those girls actually ride the bike? Or care about the product?

    Empluse is an amazing stand alone product. Something to be proud of. I don’t think putting 1/2 naked women on it, makes you proud.

    Being a female rider, and the lower percentage of your target audience, I wonder now how serious you take the female riders.

    Mary

    • #29 by brammofan on August 3, 2010 - 11:58 am

      I know that Ryan Starr, one of the ladies, often rides with the ESX Motorsports group on their forays to the Rock Store and to Bob’s Big Boy.
      As to how serious I take the female riders, I am a mere scrivener and not an authorized agent of Brammo. From what I’ve heard, however, they take female riders quite seriously and hope to appeal to that demographic … in ways other than this type of event.

    • #30 by Jennifer on August 3, 2010 - 12:23 pm

      Every single motorcycle company is using or has used hot women to sell their motorcycles. Until women become a majority target audience then the “boys” club of motorcycling will still feature hot women. As a female rider of motorcycles and the Brammo Enertia I know this will not change unless women start taking advantage of this exciting hobby and pastime. I for one would love to see Brammo become a major seller to women!!

      • #31 by Ted Dillard on August 4, 2010 - 5:36 am

        Jennifer, I agree with everything you’ve said- sort of. Every MC company does- but this doesn’t make it a good thing. As far as I know, every MC co is struggling to keep their doors open, too.

        The boys club will remain as long as women are not a powerful force in the market, and stand for it. Like I said, I’ve seen it in the Photo biz for decades, some of the most powerful talents in photography are women, yet they put up with ads that are clearly not targeted to them, and are in many cases offensive to them. If Brammo had the guts to offer something new, and women rewarded them with their orders, then the boys club will vanish.

        This was a remarkable opportunity for Brammo to brand themselves as a different company with a different mission- as we’ve heard the representatives of Brammo say in so many ways. Redefine the market, and yes, Susanna, it’s tough to bust outta that green geek mold in a MC racing context, but you can do it without, well, sinking to their language. It doesn’t have to be boring, it doesn’t have to not appeal to all the things that excite and inspire us… but this was a cliche- not a statement. Simply, a waste of the “pulpit” from where I sit.

        As far as the models go, look… they’re pros, they’re great models, they’ve done a great job and I’m sure they’re making some decent money for the gig- that was never the question. The point is the message- was that the message a company like Brammo wants to send?

        …sitting down now. 🙂

  15. #32 by Ted Dillard on August 3, 2010 - 3:02 pm

    Somehow this seems appropriate:

    Hell For Leather: “Sex, drugs and motorcycles: experiment suggests neurological connection”

    http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2010/08/sex-drugs-and-motorcycles-expe.html

    😀

  16. #33 by Terry on August 3, 2010 - 8:11 pm

    A video a friend sent me today nothing to do with this. But the models in the video at 2:00 are really no different and add so much to the event and the experience.

    I appologize to @billsvision, I checked out his tweets, and it seems he is more into motorcycles and design than I first assumed. I disagree with his opinion on the Brammo models, but differing opinions is what makes the world work.

    This thread/post/ariticle has been quite active, and am looking forward to others comments. Thanks @Brammofan for bringing this issue to the forefront. I have been around promotions and models my whole life and to me it is just normal what Brammo did and I would have done the same thing. Hopefully we all can enlighten each other on where we are in the world as far as stereotypes, perceptions and the image we all believe on what is acceptable in a given situation with a desired outcome.

    I hope all those that are taken back by the photoshoot realize there is a correct place for everything, and all factors considered, I think this was close to perfect. All of us want alternative fueled vehicled to come to the forefront, and there are plenty of people out there that will take notice to something like this that wouldn’t have anyother way. Ali and the folks at ESX had a great vision and idea, and I congratulate them for it.

    Would this have been tweeted and retweeted otherwise? =)

    • #34 by Terry on August 3, 2010 - 8:36 pm

      I am @gasfreeearth on twitter. I need to change my wordpress name.

  17. #35 by Bruce on August 4, 2010 - 5:28 pm

    Repulsive? No. But does it convince me to buy a Brammo? No.

    I’d rather see something that puts these bikes through their paces. Show me someone who rides a Brammo every day for a year to work, and then you might convince me it’s worth dropping $8000 on one.

  18. #36 by brammofan on August 5, 2010 - 11:29 am

    Hi Bruce. One of the members of the Brammo Owners Forum ( http://www.brammoforum.com) has been methodically tracking his mileage and energy use over the past 8 months of ownership (1600 miles). His google spreadsheet is here: http://bit.ly/cpDLCQ and he posts on the forum about it here: http://bit.ly/9fE6Dc . He also owns a couple gas bikes.

    And no need to drop $8000 on one, after the federal (and maybe state) incentives. What state are you from?

  19. #37 by Bruce on August 16, 2010 - 9:02 am

    1) I don’t consider 200 miles per month for 8 months much of a test. Most people commute more than that, including me. Like I said, show me someone who has been commuting every day for a year, and then I might be more impressed.

    2) I live in Canada, so if the Brammo gets imported here I likely won’t get any such incentives. So yeah, it would be at least $8000 US.

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