Sure, the Tour de France is a bike race. That’s why people line the streets and tune into ITV4 to watch it go by. But all this attention creates a new race all of its own – the brands’ race to be recognized. Here are three brands each pedaling at their own pace.
As official partner of the Tour for over 10 years, Skoda has a strong relationship with the event. Its presence throughout the race is pervasive – not only do its cars appear in the infamous publicity caravan and accompany the riders along the route, its ads also appear as part of ITV’s sponsored coverage.
Skoda UK’s head of marketing Heidi Cartledge said their sponsorship had “built the brand a strong reputation amongst professional and amateur cyclists – consideration of Skoda amongst cycling fans is almost five-times higher than that of a general audience”.
Omega Pharma and flooring manufacturer Quick Step teamed up in 2003 to create their own team, and with high profile riders like Mark Cavendish in their roster, the team has given both brands a valuable publicity boost.
Omega Pharma has an obvious advantage as a consumer healthcare brand, linking with the Tour’s ethos nicely. But their own website is somewhat removed from the excitement of the event - aside from a couple of old stories about Mark Cavendish joining the team, their news section does not exploit the recent interest in the team.
The culture clash of France and Yorkshire has provided rich pickings for brands, especially those looking to exploit the local connections around the UK route.
York Minster was one of the more unexpected organisations to make itself known to cycling fans everywhere with an ambient ad on its roof. This guerilla campaign drew a lot of attention from the aerial TV cameras covering the event, and subsequently on social media. Allez alleluia indeed.
For all the brand bombardment around this event, cycling is still the reason spectators show up. Is there a breaking point – will the balance ever tip in favour of the advertising circus brands bring to the tour? If so, how far off is it?