Paul "Bear" Vasquez, the YouTube star of “Double Rainbow” fame, is not a shoe salesman. At least, not by choice.
“So I get a message,” he says in his latest video. “One of my Facebook friends[...]wants these New Balance 'Double Rainbow' shoes.”
But Vasquez never talked with anyone at New Balance.
Still, he found the flash video, hosted at RunningShoes.com, that advertised “double rainbow” 890 running shoes. The roughly animated shoes spin out, accompanied by Bear’s now-legendary catchphrases, like “whoa, that’s a full rainbow” and “it’s starting to look like a double rainbow!”
To top it off, Vasquez’s face pops up, mouth, agape, from the border of the video. Caption bubbles synchronize with the audio, having him say "Ohhhh haha WOW!" and "Woooooooooooooo! Yeahhh!"
Vasquez was not amused. He quickly established email correspondence with RunningShoes.com, and provided the transcript of that conversation to the Daily Dot.
RunningShoes.com responded that they, not New Balance, were responsible for the video, and insisted it was done as a loving homage:
“We are really big fans of yours! Someone from our office was having fun and put together the flash video you saw. We never intended to upset you or cause you any harm. We have removed the page from our site.”
The site offered to send Vasquez a pair of the shoes, and he requested they go to the woman who first alerted him to the video.
But that request came with a condition: “We would appreciate it if you could remove the YouTube video that you posted,” they wrote.
Vasquez wasn’t on board:
I'm happy to have you send a pair of shoes to the woman who notified me about this, however removing a video that i have posted is another matter. It goes against my beliefs and if you know anything about me you know my beliefs are worth more than anything. The ad says New Balance, for now the video remains. I will think about it.
Both New Balance and runningshoes.com were closed by the time this story broke and did not return request for comment. The flash video has since been removed, but evidence that’s been around for several months still lingers online.
In February, @runningshoescom tweeted “have you seen the new balance double rainbow? be sure to turn your sound up :),” plus a link to the URL that now just redirects to the main runningpages.com site.
On January 27, a Wikipedia editor wrote “In 2012, a web-based commercial inspired by the video promoted New Balance 890 Rainbow running shoes” on the Double Rainbow (Viral Video)’s entry.
In concluding his video, Vasquez offered up his thoughts on the kind of people who would use his image in an ad campaign.
“They never asked if they could use my voice. They never asked if they could use my image. It’s pretty fucked up,” he said. “Do they not have any souls?”
He then laughed. “I guess they have souls, just the wrong kind.”
Photo of Vasquez via YouTube