An Open Letter to Campagnolo

Dear Valentino Campagnolo,

You run one of the finest companies involved in the world of cycling. Heritage and innovation combine to make some superb products. For me Super Record represents the summit of groupset development.

But you have to drop the marketing use of “Campy”. I recognise this term has gained ground amongst American consumers. This market is very important to you. But for other English-speakers around the world, “campy” is a loaded word. It is the adjective of camp, and I’m not talking about outside accommodation:

Campy [kam-pee] –adjective, camp·i·er, camp·i·est.
of, pertaining to, or characterized by camp: a campy send-up of romantic operetta.

A reasonable description on the internet also states that campy relates to “an aesthetic sensibility wherein something is appealing because of its bad taste and ironic value“. Put simply the mention of Campy Tech Labs conjures up images of engineers in tight lab coats working to music such as the Rocky Horror Show and Boney M.

It surely cannot be that you want to associate Campagnolo, its history and its brand, with bad taste and irony? It may be a term of affection from American firms but it risks mockery in the rest of the world, all for the sake of two syllables. Forza Campagnolo!

Yours in sport,
The Inner Ring

16 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Campagnolo”

  1. absolutely agree, campag? yes, campy? never. I just couldn't have anything brandy 'campy' on my bike. Not because of the connotations, just because it's just not right!

  2. Amen to that! I've always cringed at the use of the word "Campy" by Americans. It reflected their ignorance but it's 10 times worse to see the company actually adopt it.

  3. Nope. You're totally off base here, my friend. Campy does not carry those connotations in context of our world. Outside, perhaps. Inside, only adolescents would snicker an assoication.
    Americans call Campagnolo "Campy," and they are not denigrated thereby.
    Words can and do have multiple meanings. Campy is a perfectly acceptable diminutive of Campagnolo.

  4. Baruch, are you American? Because for British or Australian speakers, "campy" is not really a helpful word.

    My point is that if you want to launch a brand then don't pick a word that means something stupid in another country.

  5. You'll have to give Yanks the benefit of a doubt here. Two out of three times, we're better at the pronunciation of non-English words, French excepted. In Campagnolo, there's nothing correct about Campag or Campy with respect to Italian.

    All English speakers of a certain level of skill are familiar with the dictionary definition of "campy." The same have not struggled with the multiple definitions of the root word; have you never gone on holiday and slept in a tent/motorhome?

  6. Champs, of course. Again my point is that when launching a new brand it helps to avoid names, logos and other things would could be mistaken for other things. Fans and "insiders" can use Campy but it's another thing for a global brand.

    I don't see why the company has stuck "Campy" stickers on the prototype electric shifters when Campagnolo is fine.

  7. I totally agree…I think it's silly for a company to adopt a diminuitive as a branding moniker. But I don't quite understand why you make the distinction between Americans and British here; the adjective "campy" means the same in both places. And while I won't fight the assertion that this usage is a result of Americans' ignorance, I think the true reason lies somewhere between laziness and the inability to pronounce foreign words. (Is it a hard 'g' or a soft 'g', anyway?)

  8. Sorry Bravo, I meant the only distinction is that Americans use the term "Campy" to refer to the Italian manufacturer but others outside the US don't.

  9. Dear Anonymous from 10:40 am,

    With all due respect, I don't really agree with your statement that the use of the word "Campy" reflects American cyclists' ignorance. I and my cycling (and very cycling-knowledgeable) buddies use the nickname as a term of affection for the great components we're lucky enough to have on many of our bikes. I just don't see the point of the kind of insider-snobbery that allows one group of people to denigrate another for perceived lack of knowledge. I think we should just all enjoy riding bikes and not worry about such trifles as this. As a sidenote, I do think Campagnolo branding their products as such is silly…they've got a great name, they should use it!

  10. It's been campag since I was about 12, so I'm afraid it'll stay that way for me. I like the g, there's a nice mouth shape in 'gnolo, so I like campag to reflect that 🙂

    I don't mind campy so much for other people, but it's just not for me. I don't much mind the camp association, I mean Rapha have done quite well sailing fairly close to the homoerotic in their imagery and brand. But I agree it's probably up to the fans to apply the nickname, not the company.

  11. to broaden the debate-cleats or shoeplates? personal preference for myself is now cleats I now think of shoeplates in terms of the slotted plate fitted to shoes to use with toeclips and straps but when the word "cleat" first appeared I shunned it (being british)as an americanism

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