If you’re like most business owners, you’re thinking, “Gee, I’d really like to spend the money to sponsor a local racing team despite the fact that it will offer me no meaningful exposure or return on my investment. But my company’s logo and/or color scheme is just too darn ugly to expect anybody to wear it!”
Wrong on both counts!
Firstly, you don’t need to spend any “money” to sponsor a local road team. You see, for road cyclists, wearing your company’s logo on their kits (whether your company is the Discovery Channel or the local urologist’s office) is in and of itself a status symbol. You don’t have to actually pay the riders to wear the logo. Just offer something—anything—in return so they can justify it to themselves. 10% off on a urinalysis should do it.
Secondly, if you think your logo is too ugly, think again! These people want to look like professionals. Have you ever seen a pro road kit? Those things will make you go cross-eyed. And amateurs will do whatever pros do. Whether it’s spending $2,000 to ride the same wheels as this year’s Giro winner, injecting their own dog’s blood, or wearing a uniform that’s still completely visible after you’ve closed your eyes, these people will do it. (And that includes emblazoning your logo across their asses. Just imagine your urology clinic’s name on an amateur cyclist’s posterior. You’ll be up to your vas deferens in customers!)
(Yikes! They'll wear it though...a urologist's dream team.)
The urban fixed-gear scene is growing faster than any segment of the cycling population. As such, it is a potential sponsorship goldmine. Imagine an army of billboards, criss-crossing the trendiest neighborhoods in America at nearly walking speed and parading themselves in front of the most coveted marketing demographic in existence.
“But why would these soldiers on the hemmoraging edge of chic want to wear my stodgy logo?,” you may ask. Well, because they need money. When you’re a freelancer riding a brakeless $2,500 keirin bicycle with no health insurance living in one of America’s most expensive cities, you need cash for bike upgrades.
And as the canvases on which these riders express their uniquely individualistic urge to ride what everyone else is riding, these bicycles are ideally suited to carrying advertisements. Imagine a top-tube pad printed to look like a hero with the logo: “Subway. Eat Fresh!” Or a 40mm Deep-V rim covered with the URLs of soon-to-be released blockbuster films. Or an Aerospoke custom-painted to look like a Pizza Hut stuffed-crust pie.
Given many of these riders’ propensity for doing trackstands and lazy figure-eights in front of trendy clothing boutiques, restaurants, and bars, your sponsorship money will double itself overnight. Not to mention provide many a needy 20-something with gold-anodized handlebars.
Many advertisers are too quick to dismiss the effectiveness of the “it’s so hideous I can’t look away” ad placement. Now, that’s not to say you should set up a sandwich board at the scene of a grizzly auto accident, or advertise in some repulsive periodical like “Boil Lancing Monthly” or “Bicycling.” But it does mean you should occasionally think outside the bento-box when it comes to marketing.
Which is where triathletes come in. While nobody likes to see a middle-aged investment banker in a crop-top and a pair of shorts he got from an old “Laugh In” go-go dancer riding a time trial bike with a lunchbox on the top tube and a straw sticking out of the handlebars, as humans inexorably drawn to gaping at the horrific we often cannot look away. And while these riders tend towards clothing so immodest that it makes road cyclists look like professional golfers, their pointy aero helmets and disc wheels offer sizeable surfaces on which to plaster your message. If you dare. (Note: PSAs and charity advertisements work best here. Visual horrors tend to put people in a repentant frame of mind.)
(This will scare your ass into making a donation.)
I hope this has helped you to reach a decision. We look forward to cashing your checks.