Loud music, life-size holograms, Michael Phelps… just your average product launch

Speedo recently unveiled its LZR RACER, “the world’s fastest swimsuit” to be worn by U.S. athletes in Beijing, at a theatrical press event. The brand...

Speedo recently unveiled its LZR RACER, “the world’s fastest swimsuit” to be worn by U.S. athletes in Beijing, at a theatrical press event. The brand worked with avant-garde fashion label Comme des Garcons and PR agency French West Vaughan; PR agency Brener Zwikel & Associates; and NASA, among others, to design, develop, test, and promote a fashion-forward suit that would produce 10% less drag than any other.

My first takeaway was that swimsuits are a lot more high-tech and dramatic than I had ever imagined. And my second, inspired by a conversation with a German sportswriter reporting from her Florida bureau, was that they can, or should, incite controversy.

The Olympics, a source of national pride - and a coveted showcase for sports apparel brands - is meant to be a competition about ability, not national wealth. But it’s a source of national pride that may or may not be prompted by the American fashion designers, engineers, and marketers that pour energy and money into an “elite” bathing suit, rather than the “elite” body, strength, and strategy that qualify athletes from around the globe.

Speedo developed the FASTSKIN swimsuit for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, sparking said controversy prior to the games. So it’s interesting that the media, especially in the 2008 blogosphere, has not yet pummeled the issue. Either the current sophistication of Speedo’s PR has outwitted the new media space, or drugs, Darfur, and food safety are filling the holes.

Would love more perspectives. Does the LZR RACER put competing athletes at an unfair advantage? Does the suit provide a “fair advantage” considering a degree of national sovereignty in Olympic rules? How far should technology go to aid an athlete? Is the issue a non-issue?

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.