Department of Misinformation XXI: Target Walking Pole Ad

Q. What is wrong with this picture? A. A whole lot

I did a double-take when I saw the Target sales flyer in today’s newspaper with a full page ad on page 5 on fitness equipment. Under the banner headline, “Save on New Balance” are several fitness products. The big lead picture  shows a lean and smiling young woman walking with poles. One little copy block reads, “Sale $16 iPod armband or walking poles.” Another reads, “New Balance adjustable walk poles. Add another dimension to your workout.” A third reads, “Burn up to 45% more calories.”

Granted, Target or its ad agency didn’t specify “Nordic Walking” but referred to “walking poles,” but still, they look a lot like Nordic ski poles to me. The model is wearing black gloves, so I can’t tell where the black straps are affixed to the pole grips, but she is grasping both poles high on the grips. If  they were any brand of Nordic Walking poles, the straps would be lower down on the grip. Also, if she were doing anythng other than smiling and posing in a studio, she would have her front pole planted father back, the pole angle would be different and the fingers of her back hand would be loosened. And then there’s that back elbow sticking out behind her.The implication is also that New Balance is selling walking poles, but an examination of their website reveals no poles at all. Besides, what kind of poles of any sort can you buy for 16 bucks, even on sale?

With “friends” like Target, no wonder the general public, if they think about fitness walking with poles at all, doesn’t have a clue about what the proper poles are like or what the activity is all about.

5 thoughts on “Department of Misinformation XXI: Target Walking Pole Ad”

  1. I believe this is the 3rd year that Target has misrepresented “walking poles”. We know they are talking about Nordic Walking poles because they always use the “46%” in their ad layout. I gets my “goat” that’s for sure. The low price is attractive and folks buy them because they think they have nothing to lose at this price. That can be said for a lot of low cost fitness equipment. These poles are clunky, the grips are trekking style and the tip is a trekking tip. These are low quality trekking poles at best. The only good thing I can say is that because they are featuring the product is that the activity is alive and well because they must sell the heck out of them and why is that?? Because of all of our hard work and we’ll continue to have work to do to straighten out all the people that end up with this inferior quality, misrepresented poles. Check out comment #2 on the Target site.|12903478&CPNG=&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=12903478 I was so excited to get these, but when I got them home they would not ‘lock’ to the length I wanted. I am taking them back. Maybe a more expensive pair of poles will work better.

  2. Hi Claire – NB Nordic walking poles showed up in a retail store in Vancouver, Canada – x’mas 2010. Never saw them again. They are distributed by a US wholesale company. Very poor in pole quality, it was a surprise for me because NB has strong brand recognition.

    I took some photos at that time.

    Urban Poling Canada

    1. If I were to give New Balance the benefit of the doubt, I’d guess that some product manager who knows footwear but doesn’t know poles OKed putting their brand on these poor-quality poles. Anyone else have a thought about this?

  3. Target isn’t alone in marketing cheap/flimsy collapsible poles. The internet, Ebay and Amazon are flooded with heavy trekking type poles with twist-lock or flip-lock systems cheaply made in China.

    However, under the broad definition of Nordic Walking by many associations they cheap poles headed directly to the dumpster can be labeled as Nordic Walking Poles. Sad but true.

    My vote for both Alpine and Nordic sports (downhill and cross country, roller skiing, snowshoeing, Nordic Walking, Hill Bounding and Ski Walking) will always be for one-piece poles that are sized correctly to each individual’s height.

    Today I worked with a new customer with serious Neuropathy. His 1st pair of cheap/flimsy twist-locking collapsible poles failed miserably. His 2nd pair of expensive collapsible poles also failed miserably. He could feel huge benefits from walking with the poles, but the twist-locks didn’t hold – they slipped every time he took them out. Luckily he found our company today and ordered a pair of one-piece poles sized to his height. They will prove to be safer, lighter, stronger and much more user-friendly than his prior purchases. Also – his new SWIX (made in Norway – not China) quality one-piece poles proved to be less expensive than his 2nd pair of flimsy collapsible poles.

    Walking with poles is the best, but all poles are not created equally.

  4. A student came to a recent class with a pair of these Target poles. They were a gift to her from a son. She wanted me to figure out how to use them. They were for sure ski poles and not NW poles. She plans to walk a 1/2 marathon with them. Good luck. Quality poles are indeed expensive and it’s hard to argue with $16. But I ask them if they drive a Daewoo or a Tata. Hmmm, why not? They are cheap. And what do you pay for your running shoes? Mine are $130.

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