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November 19, 2008

Burlington City Council Shows No Love for Burton

Burton You might remember the Burton "Primo" and "Love" lines of snowboards featuring artwork depicting individuals mutilating themselves and also nude Playboy models, respectively. Many community members were upset that Burton, a company that has held fairly high reputation around the area, would not recall the line or even address the concerns of the community.

Well, Burlington's City Council is asking that the snowboarding company hold a meeting with community organizations such as Spectrum Youth and Family Services, The Howard Center, Women's Rape Crisis Center and others who feel the line goes beyond what is reasonable and responsible for a company.

The Council voted 12-1 in favor of passing a resolution requesting such a meeting. The one dissenter, Russ Ellis, a Democrat from Ward 4, felt that it isn't appropriate for the council to be dealing with the issue. He said, "I don't think we want to get into the issue of being a censoring board."

Is it responsible for the city of Burlington to respond to an issue of what some feel is offensive artwork? Where is the line between responsibly serving the citizens and meddling with the 1st amendment?

What do you think?


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Industry Professional

I am so sick of hearing this bleeding heart issue. Don't you people realize you are engaged in marketing this product and others like it, by calling attention to it? There are many products in the ski/ snowboard industry with racy graphics over the last couple years. I think there are bigger issues to face in this country than what graphic is on a handful of snowboards. Get a clue People!

Justin Boland

My hat is off to the staff at Fuse and the marketing department of Burton. When the company risked fading into the background of "respectable" snowboarding companies and falling victim to their own ubiquitous success, they've been experimenting with marketing like this.

Observers know this isn't the first "offensive" maneuver from Burton...there was also their "Sabotage Stupidity" campaign:

This kind of marketing works because of ignorance. The entire time this story has been running, I've been pointing out that the Least Effective Method of making Burton give up on these boards would be a media controversy. Media controversy increases sales. Increasing sales means repeating product lines.

If anything, this has succeeded in both making local activist look absurd, and making sure that there's going to be a new line of these same boards debuting next Fall.

Congrats to all involved!


Doesn't the City council and the other organizations have more important things to focus on than snowboards? People are so out of touch with modern times and reality --- community organizations have so much work ahead of them. If people don't like the board, don't buy it!

Diane Sullivan

I must be a sucker for media controversy, because I don't even snowboard and I wanted to buy one as soon as I saw them.

Pissed Off Taxpayer

Burlington City Council -- the arbiters of good taste and decency? That's a sick, sad joke!

Put their mouth where the money is

Jake Burton ought to be a big boy and talk to these agencies. He doesn't begin to know what socially responsible is - first his "poaching" b.s. on non-snowboard ski areas and now this. It points to one thing - greed. Reaching for the lowest common denominator to sell your gear tells me it's just as crappy as something made in Hong Kong. I'll buy from a reputable company and send money to the Howard Center, thank you very much.

Some Role Models

I think it's pretty funny that Spectrum doesn't want free Burton snowboards for their homeless kids, but it's perfectly ok for those same kids to hang out on Church Street all day long and curse out loud and smoke like chimneys when my children and I are walking by? Who's morally superior to whom here?


Burton certainly can sell what they want for the most part, and people who don't like it have every right to loudly protest, too. While in the short term, such attention may increase sales for Burton, it's just bad business in the long run to risk turning young women off snowboarding... that's %50 percent of the possible market! If young girls see this, and have not been prepared by parents, teachers, and others to understand it, they will get the message that a woman's place is naked as decoration on a snowboard, not riding on top of one. Say goodbye to female snowboarding champions from VT, perhaps from anywhere...

Of course it's a small, practically non-issue for most people. What gets to me is this: all these people worried about what goes ON Burton boards, and not a peep about the environmental impact of manufacturing them, which is significant in terms of hazardous chemical discharges from their operations.

Perhaps those worried about their kids SEEING these boards might think about what goes into their child's body from the production of the same boards.

Burton Snowboards is polluting VT.

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