Sunday, March 16, 2008

Advocacy is Good. Marketing is Better.

2008 has been declared as the year of the bike. And there may be some truth in that according to this article in Reuters.

Whether 2008 is the year of the bike or not. It is time to start re-thinking how we do advocacy. Yes, we should continue to teach kids how to ride and wear helmets. Yes, we should continue to have as much face to face as we can with local, state, and national leaders. But if we want real change. I mean change on a national level. A level that law makers can no longer ignore or ridicule on the floor of the Senate. We need only to take a page out of the auto makers, beer and tobacco companies play book. Slick and shiny ads.

People are sheep and if you convince them bikes are the new cool thing. They will ride bikes. If you sell them on the fact that they will look better and have more sex they will be lining up at local bike shops. The bike industry may finally be starting to figure this out.

The major bike manufactures (With the recent sale of Canondale. I think that leaves something like 3) along with smaller builders (Surly, Swobo etc.) custom frame builders and suppliers need to start working together and create an advertising co-op.

Here's an idea to help the newly formed co-op cover the cost of producing those commercials. Add $10 or so to the price of every bike and 50¢ to a dollar on parts, clothing and every thing bike related and set up a fund to produce those slick and shiny ads. The local shops could do the same. For example, here in Florida our airwaves are constantly bombarded by ads from the likes of "The Southeast (Insert auto maker here) Dealers". I for one would love to see those slick and shiny ads with a closing tag line of "visit your local Southeast cycling retailer".

Now here is were current advocacy thinking has gone wrong. They theory has always been that you need infrastructure before you can get the masses to ride. Nope. All wrong. Produce the slick and shiny ads and watch the dominos fall. The ads will get new people on bikes. Still others will be more resistant and will have to see the ads along with all the other new people on bikes before they get on the slick and shiny bike train. But get on they will. And guess what happens next?

The bitching starts. That's right, all those new slick and shiny people on the bikes will start bitching about the lack of bike lanes, paths, racks, showers and lockers. And guess what happens next? Yep, you got it. Government and corporations have no choice but to take action.
I personally am looking forward to the Trek Nascar Team.

Below are a few of the ads done by other much more bike friendly countries.

From England:

From Canada:

From Germany:

Ok, so I'm not sure if that's an ad or not. But, come on. Don't you want to buy a bike after viewing it?

This is a Dutch Cialis ad.

British Awareness Ad:

You can bet your lycra covered ass that if I get hit by a car and the driver tells me that they didn't see me because they were watching the moon walking bear. I'm stomping the crap out of them.

Here are several ads strung together. Not sure if they are Danish, German or both. Some you'll get. Some you won't.

And finally a truly American Ad:


Second_Pancake said...

I couldn't agree more! You should get with the guys over at Metro Jax and have them produce one of those "slick" and "sexy" adverts you're talking about;-)

Btw, I have a gripe about your blog. I'm the only one that posts comments and not once have I gotten any kind of response to what I've written ~hmmph~. Don't know if that's your just post stuff for people to read, but some interaction would be nice, ya know?

Bike Jax said...

Second-Pancake. You know you will always be my number one pancake.

You are absolutely correct. I have been ignoring you responses. But I promise it has not been intentional. I sit here and type with bowed head and ask forgiveness.

For some reason (and I have a theory about why) the responses I have received have been delivered in the form of email. Granted most of them have been very long and detailed. And I understand the respondents reason for using email. But some of the emails are from kings of the bike advocacy blogging world. And this very young blog would gain a lot legitimacy from them replying directly here.

Once again, pancake. please except my apologies for any slight in replying to your posts. It has not been intentional and I do thank you for them. I also hope you will continue to respond when you feel the need. I on the other hand promise to make more effort to reply.

Thanks you again for your active role on Bike Jax.

Second_Pancake said...

;-) Wow! I feel special now...and not in the short-school-bus kind of way:-D

Juancho said...

Nice post. Here´s another bike ad. Enjoy it.

kkr said...

This comment is three years too late, but whatever. When biking is made to look like a normal, every day activity where people don't have to change their clothes/lifestyle in order to participate, it will become appealing and more people will ride.

I don't think you'd have a problem getting folks to help create some sexy/shiny/beautiful cycling ads. The problem will be getting those ads in the kind of media that lots of people actually will see, which is why you suggest that bike companies should sink some money into glamorous marketing. While we wait for that to happen, I don't see why any Jacksonville rides/bike events should not be accompanied by killer posters or other varieties of ads...