Dear Clif Bar


An Open Letter to Clif Bar

Dear Clif Bar,

Recently I read that you dismissed 5 longtime athlete employees for undertaking risky behavior in their outdoor endeavors. I understand all sides here. I get it. You can’t condone climbers taking deadly risks while they can’t stop being the climbers that made them renown. This is the price of doing business.

I love your products and I dig the spirit behind your company. So I’ve been thinking about how you’ll replace those positions. You no doubt are well on your way to selecting a few more elite and high-profile athletes to fill these open slots. You are searching and asking who will be given the opportunity to hold the Clif bar banner high as they undertake awe-inspiring adventures on mountains and trails? Great question. I’d like to suggest and answer.

Try something a little different. I know you have an ambassador program. And that’s great. They’ve represented Clif Bar well.  But instead of hiring a few more high-profile elite athletes or adding to a brand ambassador program, select a few people who’ve overcome the odds to fight trough personal tragedy, who’ve conquered weight or bad health to reshape themselves into healthy humans. Don’t pay them. Instead sponsor their active life for a year.  Give them gear, give them fuel, and give them a place on your website.  Help them find a goal to pursue, assist them in getting there, send them Clif product, and show the world that all it takes to reshape or reclaim your life is one step on a run, one pedal of a bike, one climb up a mountain.

Sponsor the everyman or everywoman. This is more than an ambassador program. This is a chance to show the public that Clif Bar celebrates and supports all athletes, big or small, short or tall, Age Group winners or those of us who bring up the middle and rear of races. Clif Bar products sustain us as we pursue personal goals that may not impress the pro athletes under your care, but make sons and daughters proud of their mom or dad who rises each morning to improve their health, to reach for a dream, and to earn a few more healthy years on this Earth to spend with friends and family and to find inspiration and adventure

This is my appeal to you.


a fan,

Gordon Harvey



  1. Great Letter. I’m writing a (long-winded) blog post on my 2015 Running Schedule which I pared down due to monetary restraints of racing fees, racing shoes, etc. How nice would it be to have a sponsor even just for a year to lighten the burden that we have to endure because we have to pay retail.

  2. Reblogged this on Jarec Rondeau OCR and commented:
    EAS turned something similar into a full blown program. It would be awesome to see a company as great as Clif Bar do something similar.

    1. I didn’t know about EAS. I’m eager to see more companies celebrate the common athlete from the rank-and-file of endurance enthusiasts. that’s what motivates me. That and Rob Krar’s beard, of course!

  3. I wrote over 90 letters requesting sponsorship for the Human Potential Running Series for 2015. In the letter, I told each company I wrote to that the elites only comprise a very very VERY small fraction of our sport, and ultimately, no one really cares what they’re doing. I asked them to support the mid and back of the pack runners. Few responded.. those that did.. get it.

    1. I am not surprised. What gets me is that there is enormous potential for marketing and revenue growth in sponsoring rank-and-file athletes. But the old “superstar endorsement” model prevails. We should compile a list of those companies that get it and those that don’t

  4. I LOVE this!! I had bariatric surgery a year and a half ago and have dropped just over 100 pounds. I keep the weight off by running. I try to get in 100 miles a month (winter here in Minnesota is ROUGH!) and according to my tracker, I have burned over 80,000 calories since March when I did my first 5K @ 42 minutes. My last 5K on Thanksgiving was 29:49. While I still am not the fastest and I cannot go the furthest, I work as hard as I can to RUN. I use Clif for Fuel and I sure hope that they listen to ‘the masses’ and give us at least ONE ‘normal’ person that has come up and beaten the odds.

  5. In my experience at SKORA, you’re just about spot on, Gordon.

    What’s worth more to a brand:

    1) An elite athlete who is not the best of the best, but still top 1% in their sport. At this level, they still likely require a salary since the sport is there job. They may place 29th at the Boston Marathon and you’ve never heard of them.

    2) 100 athletes that athletic ability does not matter, but what matters is their activity. Their activity as an influencer on or offline in their sport’s community. Their blogging, tweeting, interacting, etc. These people just require maybe a couple free pairs of shoes yearly or discounts after that. They are ambassadors for the brand because they love the brand and the products. They don’t love the products and brand because they’re an ambassador.

    Not saying sponsoring those elite athletes is not good for brands. But I’m saying 100 ambassadors is much more easily to relate to regular people and probably way more cost effective.

    1. Thanks, Kyle. That means a lot. I’m dying to know if anyone at Clif has seen this. Don’t know who there to send it to, though

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