Nike Targets Pot-Bellied Husbands

Nike+ Fuelband

It’s called the Nike+ Fuelband.  It’s a plastic electronic bracelet that wives buy to slap onto their pot-bellied husbands’ wrists to humiliate them into climbing off the couch once a week or so.  It’s like one of those little research bands that Marlin Perkin’s had Jim Fowler attach to the legs of rare African birds.  I am one of those rare birds.  I have been tagged.

It tracks my every movement.  The number of steps I take.  The number of calories I burn.  The number of donuts I eat.  My life is no longer my own.  I have considered a number of plots to “game” the system.  Don’t think for a moment I haven’t thought of attaching this thing to a toddler.  The only reason I haven’t is that according to my iPhone, toddlers burn about 10,000 calories an hour.  The Nike+ Police Force would bust me by lunch.

My wife slyly presented it to me as an unassuming special birthday present.  I received it in a beautifully wrapped box.  My wife beamed as I tore through the paper toward what I assumed was an assortment of chocolates.   Imagine experiencing that whiplash.

I am increasingly convinced that this high tech catch and release system was the brain child of my wife and Phil Knight.  Go ahead and scoff, but we only live 100 miles from him, and both he and my wife are rabid Oregon Duck fans.  Do I need to paint you a picture?  I do?  Okay, let me explain:

The athletic market is tapped out.  How many $200 pairs of gym shoes can you sell?  So, with what I imagine as the helpful prodding of my wife, Nike decided to focus on a yet untapped demographic – wives with pot-bellied husbands.  This demographic has historically been a tough nut for Nike to crack.  These portly fellows have resisted the flashy $300 neon track suits.  They’ve turned up their noses at the $100 wicking undershirts.  Sure, Nike has sold them 100 million Just Do It! t-shirts (usually from bargain bins), but these guys are just not doing it.  They are lying on the couch eating chips and scratching their bulbous bellies.

My wife no doubt wrote the script Nike gives to wives to use in conjunction with these little plastic ball-and-chains:

“Honey, you look like you’ve been losing weight.  This will help you keep track of the calories you’re burning each day.”

Or perhaps:

“This looks great on you.  Very athletic!  Much better than that stogy $8,000 Rolex I got you for Christmas.”  (Did I forget to tell you that for the $150 price, in addition to reminding you how sedentary you are, it tells you the time?)

Then there’s the name Nike+ Fuelband.  The name itself bursting with energy and motivational influence.  Some skinny marketing geek got a big fat bonus for coming up with that one.  No question.  They’re probably still howling about it in the lunch room of the marketing firm.

Meanwhile, as for me, the experiments continue.  I haven’t quite yet perfected it, but it appears that if I eat an entire half gallon of ice cream, scooping vigorously with the same hand as my Nike+ Fuelband, the little computer thinks I’ve run a marathon.  Rock on, Nike+ Fuelband.  Rock on, Rocky Road!


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