A brand of protective bike covers sold as ‘obsessive cycling disorder’ has drawn complaints from people who say it is insensitive to the OCD community.
The company owner says the name fits the target market, but people in the obsessive-compulsive disorder community want to see it changed.
Disability researcher Marita Broadstock was walking with her family over the summer when she first saw the letters O, C and D carved into a bicycle cover in a parking lot.
“I saw the word OCD and in my brain I immediately thought obsessive compulsive disorder and then I realized they were actually doing a pun, a jokey pun on it, implying that cyclists who really enjoy riding, it’s like they have OCD.”
The cover came from Obsessive Cycling Disorder, a subsidiary of Matamata Saddlery, which sells specialist covers for transporting e-bikes.
Broadstock does not have OCD, but through her work she has become very aware of the condition and dislikes the name.
“I thought they were appropriating the acronym for a logo, which sheds light on a condition that is truly debilitating, and downplays the severity of the disorder and makes it a joke or a pun.
“By itself, that might not be seen as a big deal, but it’s emblematic, in a very public way, of a larger societal view, that OCD is just a fun behavioral quirk that many of us have.”
She contacted the company and received a response from chief executive Peter Gates.
“Matamata Saddlery has invested heavily in the brand and it is something we have chosen to maintain accordingly. However, we have taken a sensitive stance in our dealings with consumers and avoid making fun of the acronym and the associated condition.”
Broadstock isn’t the only person complaining about the blankets – TOC lawyer Marion Maw contacted Matamata Saddlery in July 2020 after finding out about the name.
“I felt like at that time they knew very little about OCD, they really had this kind of public misconception about OCD and didn’t really appreciate the context in which they were operating.”
Maw also received a response from Gates, who said the brand would not change, but the company would treat conversations around TOC with “serious consideration and consideration.”
Maw, who is also the administrator of the online support group for TOC Fixate, said she wants the name changed.
“I have no problem with the product, obviously. I think it’s great, it’s a small company doing its job. I just think they actually need to change the name of their product.”
Broadstock also wants to see the name changed.
Marketing expert Bodo Lang said a name like OCD would definitely stick in people’s minds, but for a small business it could be a risk.
“The safe bet is always to steer clear of brand names, slogans or advertisements that bother everyone, and so we try to hit the most powerful advertising message for the target market, without alienating other parts of the community.”
Matamata Saddlery would not accept an interview for this story, but in a written statement, Gates said that when he first chose the name OCD he received nothing but positive feedback.
“Most of our customers celebrate their commitment to cycling and the associated health and well-being, as well as the social networks resulting from the activity.
“The average age of our clients is around 65, they are worldly and compassionate people. There has never been anything unpleasant, demeaning or insensitive towards those affected by the disorder obsessive compulsive.”
He said the brand aligns with his customers’ obsessive desire for premium products and he responded quickly to any complaints he received about the name.
He said the company had received five complaints in the past two and a half years and four customers had requested that the logo be changed or not installed on the cover.