A Note from Fatty: After yesterday’s post, Ben from Arriva contacted me saying they’d like to donate 5 sets of the Arriva headphones for me to give away in a contest to raise money for Team Fatty’s LiveStrong Challenge. Very cool! The contest will be tomorrow and will be a 1-day raffle, so be certain to check in for tomorrow’s post.
Another Note from Fatty: My friend — and Team Fatty member — Adam is doing a Princeton Tec Bike Light giveaway to raise money. Learn how you can win a very nice light setup for your bike here.
You know, every time I see Levi Leipheimer or Lance Armstrong ride in their signature turquoise, navy blue, lemon-yellow and white Astana jerseys with the impossible-to-decipher glyph on the chest — is that a bird carrying a sun? — I can’t help but think to myself, “You know, some day I think I’d really like to go visit Kazakhstan, or perhaps, should I be given the opportunity, purchase some Kazakh-produced consummables. Such as oil. Or perhaps wool.”
Similarly, when I see Robby McEwen execute a perfect sprint while sporting his Silence-Lotto kit, I can’t help but want to burn through a few bucks on state-sponsored gambling. But strangely enough, I really want to do so quietly.
And when I see someone from AG2R go by, I always think to myself, “Hey! Someday I should find out what AG2R means!”
Team Columbia-High Road makes me want to visit Columbia. Using a high road.
You see what I’m getting at here? The current pro cycling team sponsors are going about things all wrong, and pro teams are going after the wrong kind of sponsors. As a result, sponsors are defecting and teams aren’t getting paid.
Luckily for everyone, I am here to help.
Recommendations for Sponsors
In days of yore (specifically, 1820 – 1948), it was enough for a company to sponsor a cycling team simply to get name recognition. To proclaim to the world, “A company named ‘Milram’ exists!” And eventually, people would find out that ‘Milram’ makes dairy products, and is not, as one would first suppose, “Marlin” spelled backward, and wrong.
Since then, a few things have changed. Like TV has been invented. And other stuff, too, like cheese in an aerosol can, although that is not germane to this conversation. In any case, most people now recognize that it is a good idea to not just announce your existence, but to also proclaim what it is you do, and maybe even get specific about a particular product or service you would like to emphasize at the moment.
Let’s consider a few examples of companies that might be good pro team sponsor candidates, and how they might get good use out of their marketing dollars.
Hersheys: Even as a child, I hated parades. Floats did not interest me. Marching bands grated on me. Horses pooping on the street grossed me out. The only thing I liked about parades was all the free candy tossed my way. That I could get behind. Hersheys should sponsor a team, with their jersey design in Hersheys brown, and their helmets specially shaped to look like the iconic Hersheys Kiss. And then — as part of the sponsorship contract — riders should be required to carry a couple of bags full of Hersheys Kisses in all their training rides and races, which they would toss by the handsful out to the crowds. Oh, and also they should start making better-tasting chocolate, or when Team Hersheys races in Europe, the crowds will throw the chocolate right back at them.
Ikea: If Ikea sponsored a team, they should first make a bike that ships in a flat box, and can be assembled and maintained using nothing but a hammer and a hex wrench, as long as you follow the instructions exactly. And they should call the bike “Mjolk” or “Bladdo” or something like that. Oh, and the team could make a point of eating Swedish Fish as their main on-bike food.
Playgirl Magazine: This one’s easy. No team jersey, just shorts. And cyclists must be at least 80% as good looking as Cipollini. Maybe they could get the Assos guy to ride for them.
Fiber One: Every cyclist knows the value of taking a good dump before an important ride. Seriously, I cannot think of a better sponsoring team product tie-in than this one. The focus for the members of this team would be a little bit different than other teams. Which is to say, Team Fiber One members would be required to look relaxed and happy wherever they go, whether on a training ride or in the middle of a bunch sprint.
Microsoft / Apple: These two companies should each sponsor teams, and then ignore every other racer, instead focusing on constantly attacking each other. Microsoft bikes and kits should be incredibly versatile and useful, but require advanced degrees to get beyond basic functionality. Apple bikes would be fixed-gear and stamped from a single piece of aluminum, because that would look simple and elegant.
And they would cost $40,000.
Once they see the inevitable success of this model, other companies would scramble to climb aboard the pro cycling sponsorship bandwagon. NBC could have its Fall lineup — or a Very Special Episode of Chuck — advertised on jerseys. Martha Stewart could have bric-a-brac hot-glued onto bikes and helmets, as well as color-coordinated seasonal outfits to die for.
Sony could have a team that uses bike technology similar to — but intentionally incompatible with — every other team. Donald Trump could have a team that does whatever he wants, regardless of whether it makes any sense whatsoever.
And Oprah and I could co-launch a pro version of Team Fat Cyclist.