Take Back the Tour

Whilst lounging around the house watching some GP2 racing this afternoon, I came across this advertisement from Versus for their Tour de France coverage.

“Screw the dopers, the politics, the critics. They ripped the soul out of this race. We’re masochists, believers, and it’s our time. Take back the Tour.” I like it. With this add, you really understand the anger of dedicated Tour fans – and as a baseball lover who has seen his sport torn apart by scandal and drugs, I can relate. It’s a great ad, but there’s a big difference between a great ad and an effective one.

Sure, this is the kind of advertisement I love to see – one that’s passionate about what it’s selling, and seems like it was crafted by fans, not some ad agency on the 30th floor of a high-rise office. But while it will probably be effective at bringing cycling fans back to the race, it’s not going to draw the casual fan who couldn’t care less about the Tour de France. Sure, the US sports audience cared when Lance Armstrong was there – he was an American with a great story, dominating one of the most grueling sports in the world. But now? Not so much. Who do we have to root for? Off the top of my head, I can’t name a single rider in this year’s tour – nor can I name last year’s winner (and the only reason I remember Floyd Landis winning in ’06 is because of the massive doping scandal that only just ended).

So although it features one of the best ad campaigns I’ve seen in a while, without someone like Lance Armstrong shows up, I think this Tour de France will be once again doomed to low ratings and nonexistant popularity.

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2 Responses

  1. Ah…you think it takes Lance to bring people (Americans) to watch the Tour. Given the hours and hours of Tour coverage on Versus, I really don’t believe anyone ever watched more than short spurts of the Tour that wouldn’t be watching today. (During the LA reign, we were lucky to get a nightly 30 minute program at 1:00 AM. Back then, couch potatoes might have watched the ABC recap on Sunday.) So the Take Back the Tour ads are not meant to bring in the MS rider that took their Huffy mountain bike on an excruciatingly long ride one Saturday. This ad campaign is to let us true fans know that despite all the complaints that competitive cycling was dead or dying, we just had a mild case of the flu… I’ve been to the Tour and I’ll tell you that as long as they put the bikes on the road, there will be millions of screaming people lining them. The ads are just a tonic to let us know We’re Getting Better.
    I love the sound and fury of a motor race, but if you love speed, descend a paved mountain road on a bike and then watch the Tour. Its the same adrenaline rush at a much more affordable price…and its within legal limits.

  2. I see what you mean that the ad would really appeal to the fans, but I would think the point of a Tour de France ad should be to bring new people to the sport, or bring those back who watched it during the Armstrong era. We’ve seen how much the ratings went down after he left, and most of those people probably left because their reason to watch had retired. In terms of reassuring true fans, this ad will definitely be effective. But when it comes to attracting new fans, I don’t think the ad will be effective.

    Oh, and I’m sure the Tour is amazing to see in person, but until you’ve had a Formula 1 car scream past you at 200 mph…

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