A statement from Arai regarding Dexter Ford's dismissal

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Arai-Statement.jpgThe following is a statement from Rick Menapace, the president and creative director of The Plummer Menapace Group, Arai’s marketing and advertising firm, in response to the article “Leaked docs show Motorcyclist caved to advertiser pressure, fired editor.” It’s unedited and unaltered with the exception of minor formatting changes. – Ed.  >

Arai Helmets states, unequivocally, that we had absolutely nothing to do with the dismissal of Dexter Ford. Nothing. Not directly or indirectly, actively or passively, by “threat” or innuendo.

In our opinion this matter is an internal one at Source Interlink and Motorcyclist, and has been since the beginning. To say that Arai is involved, or worse that we are the reason it happened, is simply not true! And to the best of our knowledge, the same applies to Shoei.

To suggest that we “threatened” to pull our ads unless Mr. Ford was fired for his New York Times article implies that we actually thought we had the horsepower to succeed. Sorry, but that presumes a level of arrogance and ego that nobody in this industry would attribute to Arai. Further, if any company could actually get an editor fired for writing something they didn’t like, there wouldn’t be any editors left at any publication on the planet..
 
Most compelling, though, is the fact that Arai not only advertised in Motorcyclist, but we also advertised on the Motorcyclist website where–and while–Mr. Ford’s original article has continued to run! An article whose content we continue to disagree with. Why would we advertise in the place where the story appears, but then “threaten” to pull our ads unless the editor is fired for publishing a rehash of it in another publication completely out of their control? Are we missing something here? Yet somebody wants you to believe it.

We could go on, but ask only why Hell For Leather saw no reason to contact Arai, or Shoei, to see if there was another side to the story before running such a sensational and misleading article, based on hearsay, that accuses us of something for which we are absolutely innocent. Period. We were under the impression that fact-checking is part of the editorial process.

In closing, please let me add a personal note: What a shame that a man like Mr. Arai, who has sacrificed sales rather than compromise his integrity and obsession with rider protection and safety, who has over 50 years of personal involvement in helmet design and construction in the constant search to build the best helmets his company can create, a company with his family name on its helmets, finds this company accused of something that wouldn’t even enter his mind. How disappointing this is for him.  

Thank you for your consideration of this side of the story.

Sincerely,

Rick Menapace

  • Isaac

    Wow this reads like Lawyer jargon rather than a reason as to what happened.

    • Michael

      Nope. Seems pretty clear to me.

      • s0crates82

        agreed.

    • gregorbean

      Reads pretty clear to me, and I’m no lawyer. I’ll probably buy Arai’s as long as I ride, not necessarily exclusively, but when it’s time for a new lid an Arai will always be in the running. They fit my head nicely and are the lightest most comfortable helmets I’ve had the pleasure of wearing. Thanks for posting this. I appreciate HFL’s attempts at transparency.

  • Chris Y.

    He’s got a point.

    I don’t think HFL actually said “Arai and/or Shoei were the ones who pulled this crap on the magazine”, and from what I can remember, the only thing said was that two companies were involved. That being said, Shoei and Arai WERE mentioned in the article quite a bit, so even if not explicitly stated, it was sort of implied that they might have had something to do with it. It is a bit unfair to publish things without getting a comment from the two companies mentioned, especially as this could prove to be a public relations disaster.

    Pretty glad the statement was posted, however. Now, as they say, the truth lies somewhere in the middle of everyone’s stories, so now I’m really curious what those two accused companies are.

  • Kevin

    Good Grief. If ARAI/SHOEI didn’t threaten to pull their advertising over the first psuedo-science article written in an industry mag which could hurt sales then why would they threaten after the NYT’s piece. It makes no sense whatsoever.

    Besides, if anyone has ever deconstructed an ARAI then compared it to the plastic bucket Dexter said tested best they’d know that Dexter has some kind of an axe to grind. Editor Mitch Boehm should have known better. Get real.

    I wonder what Dexter really got fired for? There’s story for ya. Hope HFL can get their facts straight on that one…….

  • Bob

    Please post a link to the original article. I am a long time Arai fan and have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Thanks!

  • richmeyer

    Ah, the saga continues. You know what they say, there’s 3 sides to every story…..

  • AK

    This is apples to oranges. Arai snd Shoei DO put in the proper engineering for their helmets and their intended users. The Snell standard is just another marketing tool (perhaps both these stories are too…) and most people either;

    A) Don’t know / don’t care or
    B) Do know and do care and will pay more for the tried and true helmets.

    Glad this story was brought to our attention because I missed that article in the NYtimes.

    I see the journalistic conflict but at the same time, you know what helmet to put on your head, your a big boy…as for the kids, if the parents are not “in the know”, they probably shouldn’t be buying ANYTHING until they get their facts straight. Sorry, this isn’t a sublime utopia, its the world as we know it.

  • John

    Aren’t you supposed to set stuff like that down for 24 hours, then reread it when you’re not bent out of shape?

  • Scott

    OMG! Wes has a new lilac helmet that death spray painted Monet’s lillies on… totally match his socks.

  • Woody

    I thought I remember a part in the article in parentheses where they say that the threatening advertisers weren’t actually arai and shoei.

  • Woody

    Okay, I found what I was thinking of, it was actually a quote from the editor.

    Anyways, I use an Arai, and probably always will. The quantum lid I have is a great helmet.

  • hi

    does the photo of the beat up helmet imply something more…

  • Dave

    The last paragraph sounds like my mother. “I’m not mad son, just disappointed”.

    I’m not surprised they fair badly in tests. I’m not sure where the “Arai are the best” thing comes from other than marketing and price. In my experience working in a helmet store (this was a couple of years ago so may be different now but I doubt it) Arais and Shoeis were both nasty chopped strand fibreglass construction, with just a square of weave on the top and back. Pull a $150 AGV to pieces and they were completely woven- far better structural integrity.

    OK Arai may be quiet, comfortable and feel the best when you try it on in the store, but with the new test results being published they have been shown for what they are, in my opinion, not the best when things go skywards.

    • Grive

      Um, nobody has said that Arai has bad protection. I have no idea of where are you coming from.

      The problem is actually the exact opposite of what you state. Snell 2005 was too stringent about forces and lax about accelerations. So a Snell 2005 helmet was not actually “weak” or had poor structural integrity – on the contrary, it was too strong.

      Remember, Helmets are not made to survive an accident.

      And no, I’m no Arai zealot. I’m actually an AGV fanboy (Oh, flat-silver AGV S4 how much I love thee).

    • Alex

      Thanks god that you no longer work in a helmet store!

  • http://Http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

    The response is a valid one and I applaud it, though it does nothing to allay the questions raises by either the old or new articles. To simply state that they don’t agree with Ford is, to me, inadequate.

    It also seems to suggest that the SNELL certification is not something they engineer their US helmets to meet, but rather one they happen to meet as a side effect of their pursuit for the best protection. I wonder if that’s true. If all of their helmets are the same in design and spec around the world, are the differing names a marketing choice or are they made to different standards?

    On Arais UK site, they’ve announced a helmet that meets both Snelll 2010 and ECE standards, so that’s interesting. http://www.araihelmet-europe.com/2009/eng/

    I have personally enjoyed my Arai. Thankfully, I have not had to crash test it.

    • HammSammich

      I think that the revised 2010 SNELL standards were partially revised to improve impact protection (reducing the G-Load transmitted to the brain), so it kind of makes sense that SNELL 2010 and ECE coincide.

      • http://twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

        My question is based on the more recent Dexter Ford article and e-mail chain. More specifically…

        The email from Steve Gotoski to Dexter Ford reads, “At the bottom of the first column on the second page (of the NYT article), we indicate that 2010 helmets are able to pass Snell, ECE, and DOT simultaneously. Shoei and Helmet House staff respectfully disagree and believe that there are no helmets (currently offered or pending) that will conform to all three standards.”

        I came across the Arai RX7-GP claiming to meet both Snell and ECE. It’s the only helmet I’ve seen so far that claims to meet both standards. I wonder if it’s different than the Corsair V and, more to the point, could the Corsair V meet those standards and DOT? Is Arai making slightly different helmets to meet standards in different markets? Or is there a revised Corsair coming soon?

        Sorry about the double post. Hope Grant or Wes don’t mind blitzing the one prior to this.

    • Grive

      Interesting. Still, Snell 2010 is supposedly a completely different beast. Even in Ford’s “SNELL is going to kill you and your children after it kicks your dog” article, he states that S2010 has corrected all the issues that make Snell 2005 so dangerous.

      So a ECE/Snell 2010 helmet makes quite a bit of sense (more than an ECE/Snell 2005).

  • Brett L.

    The entire first article needs to be read before forming an opinion, it’s quite long but interesting if you have a few minutes to let it sink in. The only conclusion I can draw is that at least one of the many parties involved is not being truthful. There may be personal vendettas, back-stabbing to save one’s own job, threats to withdraw advertising dollars, but HFL doesn’t take anyone’s side.

    It’s interesting, above, how the President of the ad firm speaks as if he is an Arai employee and official spokesperson. I don’t know if this is how things are typically done. Question: When helmet companies are mentioned/named as making threats, is it actually the respective ad firms that are being referred to?

    • robotribe

      It’s interesting, above, how the President of the ad firm speaks as if he is an Arai employee and official spokesperson. I don’t know if this is how things are typically done. Question: When helmet companies are mentioned/named as making threats, is it actually the respective ad firms that are being referred to?

      Exactly. I don’t know why more don’t ask the same question. I liken it to Tiger Woods’ mother coming to his defense in an “official” capacity.

      Folks, it’s this ad person’s JOB (the president and creative director of The Plummer Menapace Group, Arai’s marketing and advertising firm) to defend Arai’s public perception…no matter what.

      • Rick

        Brett and robotribe,

        This is Rick, the Arai Response writer. I’m writing this as me, not as, or for, Arai.

        To respond to your questions and comments: As Arai’s marketing/ad guy, I was the one to write the piece simply because the issue deals with advertising and the misperception that we used ours as a club to cost a guy his job. My company knew all the details; we knew we had nothing to do with it. It was logical that we were the ones to respond. Believe me, it wasn’t because I had to be the sacrificial smiley-faced Spin Creep shoving my shiny suit into the spotlight to shield Arai “no matter what.” Arai doesn’t respect those kind of people. I wrote it in my words. (Although they did tone me down when I got overly-Italian – that’s Philly Italian, not NYC.) Hence my personal comment about Mr. Arai. Sappy? Maybe. From the gut? That, too. I’ve known him 25 years; you can accumulate a lot of respect in that time. That’s why I wrote it. People can make of it what they will.

        As for my usage of “we” as if I’m an employee, well, after more than two decades with Arai, the we/they line gets admittedly blurred. I don’t think the Arai folks consider me an outsider either.

        Of course you guys had no way of knowing any of that, which is why I wanted to explain.

        Finally, I don’t know if this matters or not, but I’ve ridden bikes for 47 years. Mostly street, mostly sportbikes. Some racetrack. A couple Ducs are pawing at the garage door as we speak. Guess what helmet I wear.

        Anyhow, there it is for what it’s worth.

        Thanks for the consideration.

  • Bald Shaun

    Arai can make helmets that meet meet both Snell 2010 and ECE because Snell 2010 is much more in line with ECE standards. It was Snell 2005, a standard to which many helmets are still being produced, that was in contention. They may not agree with the Ford’s original article, but all of their Snell 2010 helmets have been manufactured in accordance with the findings of that article. As far as reading like lawyer jargon, it seemed like plain English to me. I give them credit for at least addressing the issue, though the guilt trip is a little much.

    Personally, I’ve only been buying ECE certified helmets since reading Ford’s “Blowing the Lid Off”, AGV and Shark haven’t let me down, so I see no need to switch back.

  • The Lawyer

    HFL is having a bad stretch. Sorry Wes/Grant, but I think you guys should have responded to the last comment from Cycle World regarding your first attempt at the Ape spoof going viral. Secondly, there were implications in your article that Arai and Shoei had something to do with Ford getting axed. Granted, the editor was a douchebag, but you had no factual basis to implicate Arai or Shoei – it was all conjecture. Adding caveats to a story does not undo the harm.

    That being said, I still think HFL rocks. Stay the sensible hoons you guys are – bike junkies in the know. I only expect more hoonage and track days from my fellow NYC motorcyclists. I’ll track your asses down at NJMP someday.

    • Grant Ray

      I’m pretty sure I did reply. The guy has got one finger pointing at HFL and three fingers pointing back at him. Nothing else needs to be said or responded to.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Don’t confuse people that have a vested interest in maintaining the motorcycle industry status quo getting upset with us for not doing as we’re told with HFL “having a bad stretch.”

      Remember, we’re in this for you, not them.

      • The Lawyer

        I know how the industry works. That’s why I read your blog, the super-boring consumer news, and the over-priced Brit mags. I agree with your position with respect to the Ape deal. The whole conflict of interest issue was blown way out of proportion. I just wanted you guys to stand up for yourselves a bit more and smack down the the dude from Cycle World. You should not be apologetic to the status quo.

        However, I will stand by my comment on the Arai Shoei implication.

        I think you guys do excellent work. Keep it up.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          That article made no implications of any kind about Arai or Shoei except to say that both make helmets certified to the Snell standard. Other implications, if any, were made by third parties in the leaked emails, which we didn’t publish.

          • The Lawyer

            You did not publish the emails, but you did quote them. I don’t see the difference.

            At one point in the leaked emails Catterson appears to put a dollar amount on some of the advertising that’s been lost due to Ford’s articles. In an email dated January 19, 2008, at 11:33 AM, Catterson is quoted as writing, “Also FYI your last column cost us Arai’s and Shoei’s ads again–approximately $100K.”

  • Scott

    Wes, did you contact Arai about the story before you ran it?

  • http://twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

    At some point, per Ford’s NYT article, it was said that Snell 2010 helmets would also pass ECE as a matter of fact. Assuming that’s true, and Arai’s released a helmet that does Snell 2010 and ECE, what’s the conflict in the DOT standard?

  • johnnyb

    HEY! it’s me again the Cycle World guy!
    Allow me to quote myself on the finger I pointed at you (after you pointed some at my fine print rag, blanketwise and specifically) re your Aprilia video (cool vid, by the way):

    “Wes darling, it’s really quite simple. If you got paid for doing the Aprilia thing while you’re putting yourself out there as an unbiased motorcycle tester, you’re over the line.

    Like a senator in an airport bathroom, you can talk about your wide stance all day, but people are just going to get the wrong impression when you’re groping around under there, whether you’re guilty or not. (That’s why the stall wall is there.)

    I am at my Cycle World desk right now, matter of fact. And I can assure you nobody from the ad side has ever told me what to write about a motorcycle. With our lead time, we don’t even know what ads will run. Hmmm, we just picked the RSV4 as our favorite an issue or two ago, and glancing through that issue I see zero Aprilia advertising. I don’t know if we have ever had any Aprilia advertising? It’s not my department.

    Pretty ironic you so enjoy accusing “the print mags” of exactly of what you’re guilty of here.

    I’m curious what the “three fingers pointing” at me, according to Grant’s post above, are?”

    johnnyb | July 13, 2010 2:47 PM | Reply

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      John,

      Here’s a link to your personal website:
      http://johnburnswriter.com/

      Which touts your experience as a journalist as qualification for work as a freelance ad copywriter.

      On that same site, I see examples of ads you’ve worked on for Yamaha and Star motorcycles. Have you written about Yamaha and Star motorcycles since you accepted paychecks from them?

  • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

    (Note to HFL – feel free to format this links – I don’t know how to.)
    John – you say “You can’t do the two AT THE SAME TIME. ie, Concurrently. Objective journalism and paid cheerleading for for any particular team, that is.”
    In May 2010 you wrote very favorably about the Yamaha YZF-R1 for Cycle World. http://www.cycleworld.com/motorcycle_news/events_articles/archive/masterbike_2010_the_best_european_and_japanese_sportbikes_battle_for_racetrack_supremacy_in_spain/masterbike_2010_3a_yamaha_yzf-r1_page_10.
    The ad on your personal site – http://johnburnswriter.com/Burns_Coll_Yamaha_champs.html – shows the Yamaha team. I’m too ignorant to know which year that ad ran just by looking at the bikes or the lines in Rossi’s face. Additionally, the copy on your site says, “John Burns began his career as a motorcycle journalist at Cycle magazine two decades ago and is still hard at it-but now offers his services as a freelance advertising/collateral copywriter as well.” I read, above, that you “came back” on the CW staff in January, but your site suggests a two decade continuous career.
    Finally, my question: Is there a time-limited bright line that separates journalism from “cheerleading” in the “established rules of western journalism”? If so, please give me a cite. Based on the copy and samples on your site, and the quick glance at your CW articles, there’s no division between the two at all.

  • Chris Favro

    It is true that, thanks to the new SNELL M2010 standard, some helmets would be able to pass both SNELL M2010 and ECE2205, but ONLY in the smaller sizes (up to Large I believe) because only for those SNELL lowered the max G allowed and lowered the impact specs.
    Chris

  • http://www.justzeros.com Brandon Glanville

    Wow! All kinds of moto drama. Lions and Tigers and Bears! OH MY! Just wear a helmet and go ride.

  • Sean Goulart

    Having worked as the Editor of the largest website for motocross at the time, (www.motocross.com), I was never subjected to advertising pressure from the big guys. Only from the small clients who were politely informed that’s another department, complain to them!

  • http://www.proitalia.com Ed

    This is a lively and entertaining thread. Keep it up!

  • jimboecv

    Which is why I never, ever, read HFL, period.

    • Grant Ray

      …says the guy who read and commented on HFL. :)

  • http://www.pedalgents.com Seb

    i love HFL, both contentwise and for the comments.. geez, virtual high fives to wes and grant! so interesting!

  • Cretony

    OMG this just in: Avon, Bridgestone, Continental, Michelin. Pirelli, Metzler, IRC, Cheng Shin all failed to mention that you COULD crash while using their products!!! or even get a FLAT TIRE ?! Is this a big cover up???? What can be done to prevent this lack of a safety notice???? Who can we sue????

  • Justin

    Now that I know for certain someone for Arai is actually reading this stuff, I have a message to pass on to the brass.

    Please lower your helmet prices. Yes I know Arai’s are handmade. Yes I know they are top shelf. Yes I know they are some of the best lids on the market.

    Simple fact: I can buy a helmet for under $200 that meets the same Snell 2010 standard. Since Snell is not affiliated with the manufacturers, that means the $200 lid is just as good as the $900 Arai Corsair. Right?

    I’ve worn nothing but Arai for the last 23 years of riding. Simply put, I can’t afford a $900 helmet. Lower your prices or I awitch brands, simple as that. I also know for a fact I am not alone on this one.

    That is all.

    • shinigami

      I bet a lot of people wish an Omega Speedmaster were the price of a Timex Indiglo. I mean, hey, they both tell time, right?

      Tell you what, you go right ahead and buy that @200.00 Chinese lid. I will smoke a couple fewer Cuban Bolivars per month, and at the end of the year, I will have enough saved up for my 6th Arai.

      We all make choices in life.

      • Justin

        OK dude, I would like to be there when you tell Ben Spies that his lid is a POS. Give him a call & let me know what he says. That’s what I thought.

        The argument that only the uber dollar helmets are the best & everything else sucks is old & tired. I’ve been putting Arai’s on my dome for 20+ years. In that time, the lids got more & more expensive yet there is ZERO that has changed or improved. It’s morons like you that simply refuse to accept that ANYTHING else can or could be just as good that are the main reason why the price keeps going up but you get absolutely nothing back in return.

  • http://www.smf.org Steve J

    I must commend HFL for having the journalistic integrity to post responses to the articles they publish. As a long time employee of the Snell Foundation the ongoing issue regarding helmet safety has raised concerns within our organization. These concerns are based on the belief that the helmet buying public may be placed in the position of making decisions about their safety based on erroneous assumptions and misinformation.

    The Foundation fundamentally disagrees with the “study” Mr. Ford had published in Motorcyclist Magazine, and believes that the results are not developed from any sort of unbiased scientific process. Suffice it to say that the Foundation has refuted much of the logic of Mr. Ford’s conclusions. The New York Times article however, was more than a challenge of our methods and philosophies, it was an attack on our character and purpose appearing in one of the nation’s largest online daily publications. Even more frustrating was the fact that the NYT refused to publish our rebuttal which provided much needed clarifications to many of the assertions in the piece. For those that are interested, we posted what we submitted to the Times as our response on our website at: http://www.smf.org/articles/responsenyt.htm. The site also provides technical information regarding helmets and their effectiveness.