I love the power of a well-positioned brand. A well-executed brand logo is flat-out memorable. Just the sight of it congers up a powerful set of feelings.
I also love bicycles. When I was five years old, I used to dream about having one of my own. I finally got one for Christmas when I was ten. I’ve logged thousands of miles since then and still dream about bicycles on a regular basis. I’ve even helped build a couple of dream bicycle brands like Cannondale, Merlin Titanium Bicycles and Spectrum Cycles.
Which brings me to another thing that I love, the Tour de France. I was watching it on TV the other night, enjoying the coverage of my favorite sportscasters: Phil Ligget, Paul Sherwen and Bob Roll (Bobke). The Tour started in 1903 as a promotion scheme to sell newspapers across France. Today there’s more promotion than ever, with riders covered with logos on their bike clothes and helmets.
I usually have no problem with a tastefully-placed logo. Unfortunately, it seems that the hot “new” property for promoting brands at the Tour is now the butt. When a bicyclist is bent over the bicycle in the drop handlebars, what sticks up is his butt. It used to be that brands were all about the chest of the rider – after all, that’s what we saw in photos of the winners as they stood on the victory podium. Of course, the sponsoring brands also put their logos on the riders’ backs, but the riders are bent over so much of the time the brands were hard to see in action photos or during live TV coverage. Putting logos on the thigh of a rider’s bike shorts also has drawbacks. With legs constantly pumping they’re often hard to read.
Ah, the butt. But is it really the best real estate for a brand? Is that really where people should be looking? Does a brand want to be sat on (if it’s not a “chair” brand)? Is it too much? I feel like it is. I love the race. I’m so pleased that the sponsors make it possible. I know the teams. But it just feels like they (the brands) are literally sticking it (their brand) in my face – along with the rider’s ass. Which feels pushy to me and denigrates the brand. Maybe I’m too much of a traditionalist. Or maybe I’m a prude.
Butts or no butts, I’m still gonna watch the race and love the sport.