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Sponsoring a Team
« on: July 24, 2015, 22:28 »
Sponsor goals are interesting to me, the story that is always floating around is that winning is very important to sponsors, but I have to say I wonder why. I understand winning to be important as far as winning will get you on the news. However as far as the PR goes for the race I am not sure winning is as important. Basically I would argue that it is more important to be race relevant than to win. Also hype should be a measurement. Lets take the big 4 at the Tour as an example had one of them folded in the first week they would still have had all the PR from the Pre Tour hype. And in the end that might be worth more than a few wins along the way. Another point being sprinters, the tv-time you get from a sprint win is minimal, so for me as a sponsor it would seem less attractive than hitting the breaks, even though this would be less successful. Also I think the fans opinion matters. Nibali is well liked as an attacker, people like him for this and because of this his name rubs off on the Astana brand positively. Froome might be winning, but he is too polarizing, the amount of people hating Froome and Sky represent a group of people that might not buy a Sky product in the future. Ultimately what this leads me to is the question, why are teams not build this way? All market logic would say that winning is second to image for sponsors. Sponsors obviously have a huge say in the sport. Why would a sponsor not try to force a teams riding style to reflect an image they would like? And why would teams not hire based on this, ae. widely well liked riders like Adam Hansen should be overpaid in relation to his performance as you would pay by sponsorship value. Mass sprints should be a backup for teams with fast men who missed the break. I honestly don't understand why this is not a thing. First off let me state that I think it could be dangerous for the sport, as winning stops to some degree being the goal, but if a sponsor did it the right way, by simply signing the right riders so that said strategy would be the best for winning as well then it would be great for said team. Does it make any sense what so ever?
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  • AG

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    Re: Sponsoring a Team
    « Reply #1 on: July 25, 2015, 06:27 »
    that is partly true - but for sprints ... someone like Cavendish gets a lot of publicity BECAUSE he wins often. 

    as for winning the Tour - Cadel Evans gets a lot more publicity and air time for BMC than Frank Schleck gets for being 3rd that year.    Winners are remembered in the history books and talked about not just at the time but forever more
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    Re: Sponsoring a Team
    « Reply #2 on: July 25, 2015, 07:00 »
    I think various factors can play a part. The best known cycling team over the past ~20 years is probably still Festina?
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    stereojet

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    Re: Sponsoring a Team
    « Reply #3 on: July 25, 2015, 07:45 »
    I've often wondered about a similar issue in relation to Rapha. Every year they ask in their annual survey whether respondents think that the Sky link has harmed or benefited the Rapha 'brand'. I'd love to see the results of those surveys. I had a soft spot for Rapha when it sponsored its own team which disappeared with the Sky link. I wonder what the more 'serious' Rapha fans think (I've a couple of Rapha tops which were bought in the sales but wouldn't ever think of myself as a fanboy). The company played on its values with the old Rapha-Condor team, which seems to have disappeared now.

    Actually, can a sponsor's values really be reflected in a cycling team?!!
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  • Kiwirider

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    Re: Sponsoring a Team
    « Reply #4 on: July 25, 2015, 11:58 »
    Interesting questions ...

    Closest that I've seen to any sort of answer from inside the cycling world on this topic was from Gerard Vroomen - of Cervelo fame - on his blog. He wrote a piece on sponsorship in cycling in general - http://gerard.cc/2013/10/30/selling-cycling/ - and  there is also a bit in his answer to a question that I put to him (which was in relation to doping and the pressure that sponsors put on riders) http://gerard.cc/2012/05/28/answering-kiwiride/

    Cervelo Test Team were well known for their "it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game" approach, so his comments are probably more an outlier than an indication of the prevailing attitude in the sport.

    As for my thoughts on your questions ...

    As I have said on other threads, when it comes to cycling, I love the humanity of racing - the struggle, the effort, the pain, the highs and lows. Pictures like Eddy Planckaert in Flanders covered in mud with blood running down his leg from a fall, or Dag-Otto Lauritzen cresting an alpine climb with a grimace on his face, or Fignon and Mottet attacking on 'le quatorze juillet" symbolise what I love in cycling. Subject to any subsequent scandals, these types of events are inherently positive and represent a "striving to overcome" mentality.

    By contrast, a win is much more equivocal. To change sports, look at rugby. My home country is one of the dominant forces in the sport and more often than not will win the international matches that it plays. But to all but the blindest of fans, there is a huge contrast between a one point victory over Australia (perennial "enemies" and another powerhouse in the sport) versus a 60 point romp over Japan (who love the game, but are never going to make it into the first tier).

    So, on first blush, if you are marketing to me, then I am very much in the camp of the race relevancy rather than winning being the thing that a sponsor should be looking for.

    However there are other factors that also need to be overlaid.

    First is culture. Some cultures (read: USA) give the impression that they only care about winning - and quite frankly give the impression that they care far less about the quality of the victory than the outcome. (Examples abound in a range of sports, rather than just the most famous cycling example of that.) So, if you are a sponsor for which that kind of market is important, then you need a team that wins. If not - and perhaps this explains things like the polarisation and dislike of Sky and their boring style of riding (I hesitate to call it racing), contrasted to the love affair with Europcar and Tommy Voeckler in France - then again, winning comes second to exposure.

    Second is the nature of your product. If you are a bike or component manufacturer, then you need to see results - after all, you are putting your name on the jerseys saying " our product is so good that it makes you ride (INSERT SUPERLATIVE HERE) than other products". If you are a toilet manufacturer, supermarket, insurance company, whatever, then you will be more interested in the time that your logo is seen and the quality with which it is displayed.

    The latter is actually a tricky point for some sponsors and no doubt keeps them away from sport in general or increases the stakes for their involvement. For example, could you imagine the damage that would be done to a brand like AG2R if there was a widespread doping scandal in the team?

    The last factor that I see is whatever sort of rub off effect sponsors get. The negative side of this is "guilt by association". To give an example - I will never willingly buy a Sky product (leaving aside the fact that they're not in Canada) because of their association with team and the fact that I'd hate to think that even 1c of my money was supporting them. By contrast, I was very happy to buy a Bissell vacuum cleaner a couple of years back because they had a couple of Kiwis riding for their team for many years. Product factors are also relevant - I look at Europcar for rentals, but get better deals with Budget - but the image that their sponsored teams create is highly relevant as a "door opener".

    All of which I guess answers your question by saying that, in this little corner of Quebec at least, its not winning but the nature of the exposure that sponsors should be focusing on - and that they should focus on doing all that they can to keep their sponsored teams keeping that exposure as positive as possible.

    On that note, time to stop typing about cycling and head out for a short ride before breakfast!!  :D :D
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  • L'arri

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    Re: Sponsoring a Team
    « Reply #5 on: July 27, 2015, 10:37 »
    Winning is what gets you the interviews, the podiums, the photos and the guaranteed mentions in the mass media.

    So winning has to be the target, while often far more interesting guys like Hansen are only ever going to get "Did you know?" snippets and the three-times-in-a-career magazine feature.

    "Characters" in cycling are like the dramatic relief, the Bottoms and the Dogberrys of the sport. They have a valuable role to play but I'm not sure they supplant the principal sporting aims of teams in cycling in terms of sponsorship value.
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    lancasterke

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    Re: Sponsoring a Team
    « Reply #6 on: July 27, 2015, 10:49 »
    if you can't aford the winners, or the super talents and there really aren't many 5-6 top sprinters, 4-5 GC contenders, a handful of classics guys and some 2nd tier GC guys or 1 week guys, maybe 3 TT guys
    the super talents WCU23, tour de L'avenir etc guys are rare, expensive and often don't pan out

    then you have to go with talents, and effort and charecters, OGE for example or europcar.

    but if you develop a talent who becomes competitive, unlikely you can keep them, see Wiggins at Garmin for example.
    the lower price sponsors are after a handful of great stories a year

    MTN connected africa to the cycling world
    FDJ won the jackpot on alpe d'huez etc.
    obviously these guys would like 5 stages and yellow, but they're not paying 40mln a year, so will probably live with it
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  • cj2002

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    Re: Sponsoring a Team
    « Reply #7 on: July 27, 2015, 11:23 »
    I've often wondered about a similar issue in relation to Rapha. Every year they ask in their annual survey whether respondents think that the Sky link has harmed or benefited the Rapha 'brand'. I'd love to see the results of those surveys. I had a soft spot for Rapha when it sponsored its own team which disappeared with the Sky link.

    I loved the old Rapha-Condor team. I can't afford Rapha clothing, but it was always stylish. I wouldn't buy it now, anyway, out of principle.

    Cervelo Test Team were well known for their "it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game" approach,

    I get the feeling that JV has a similar attitude to Garmin. Their team ethos always seems to about being clean and transparent[1], and animating a race seems is applauded, even if it's ultimately unfruitful. Think about Ryder Hesjedal on Alpe d'Huez chasing back on to Pinot and then - somehow - even getting onto Quintana's wheel.

    As for an actual answer to the question... CN were involved in a lengthy report that looked at this sort of thing. I read it when it came out, but I can't actually remember the key points. I did, however, find the link so you can all download it for yourselves.

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/cyclingnews-presents-the-first-sponsorship-report-on-professional-cycling
     1. Here is not the place to discuss whether they are either of those things...
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    stereojet

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    Re: Sponsoring a Team
    « Reply #8 on: July 27, 2015, 11:30 »
    I loved the old Rapha-Condor team. I can't afford Rapha clothing, but it was always stylish. I wouldn't buy it now, anyway, out of principle.

    Me too.

    I get the feeling that JV has a similar attitude to Garmin. Their team ethos always seems to about being clean and transparent[1], and animating a race seems is applauded, even if it's ultimately unfruitful. Think about Ryder Hesjedal on Alpe d'Huez chasing back on to Pinot and then - somehow - even getting onto Quintana's wheel.
     1. Here is not the place to discuss whether they are either of those things...

    Vaughters also said that Garmin is a very conservative company, which meant that he was always hyper aware that any doping scandals that could reflect poorly on Garmin would likely lead to the collapse of the sponsorship deal. I guess he could also point to the ubiquity of Garmin GPS products in the cycling 'community' as evidence that the sponsorship is working (although handily, that Garmins are probably the best units helps!).

    FWIW I really felt for Hesjedal on the Alpe. You could see on his face how deep he was digging. A really gutsy ride.
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