On April 19th an Inspired Bicycles web link featuring Danny MacAskill, went live on YouTube. Just four days later well over one million people had viewed the five-minute plus edit. Mark Sutton asks a number of brands what effect sponsoring talent has on business...

INDUSTRY OPINIONS: The value of sponsorship

The main reason for a brand sponsoring a rider with products is to generate interest and increase sales of the brand. This is why companies look to the best riders as they usually obtain the most media coverage and have a certain influence over what the public buys.

One of the most well-known on Ison’s books is Sam Pilgrim who we sponsor with TSG, Halo, Gusset, ODI, MRP and KHE. Sam has his own signature colourway Halo SAS Purple Haze wheelset and also a signature Evolution helmet from TSG.

When Sam does well in a comp or has a great video section he gains good exposure on websites and in magazines. This leads to greater interest in products that Sam uses, which in turn, leads to a sales increase.

This doesn’t only apply to the specific parts that Sam uses because the brand as a whole benefits from the increased exposure. We then see increased sales of the whole range from that particular brand.

A good example of this would be Sam winning the Qashqai London event last year. Almost immediately after the event we saw a definite increase in sales of all the brands he represents.
His signature colourway Halo SAS Purple Haze wheels sold out almost as soon as they arrived!

As a very media-savvy rider, he understands what being sponsored entails in respect of brand expectations, which makes him a great sponsorship proposition.
Matt Andrews, Marketing Manager, Ison Distribution

I see online videos as one of the most effective forms of marketing for Charge. Some of our recent fixed videos have had over 30K views in 48-hours on Vimeo alone. On top of that, we publish the videos on Apple, Freecaster, extreme sports website Mpora and You Tube.

Compared to print advertising this sort of product marketing is so much more effective. It shows the products being used in demanding situations, and motivates and inspires people to

From the positive feedback I get, it is undoubtable that bike enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts hunt out these videos and often eagerly await the release of the next. So it’s about as effective a form of targeted marketing as we have at our disposal.
Nick Larsen, MD, Charge Bicycles

A lot of the time it’s pretty hard to nail down the benefits of sponsoring riders, especially if they don’t have National Championships to their name.

Of course, when someone like Danny MacAskill has an overnight explosion of interest in a video, it is a great thing for brand awareness in general. We never expected anything like two million plus page views in under a week with the latest edit. It would have been great to link the release of the video with a new range, but the potential publicity generated almost negates the new product range.

Potentially, people that have never heard of your brand before become aware, so the entire range is ‘new release’ to them. Most of the time the extra enquiries and sales generated by sponsored riders is questionable, and in my opinion near impossible to quantify accurately. If you commit the financial and time levels to supporting a top rider then there are definitely benefits in terms of sales as most people will agree. However, unless a customer states on the phone that they are calling because a certain rider uses the product, who is to say that seeing the product elsewhere wouldn’t have had the same effect?
David Cleaver, MD, Inspired Bicycles

Sposorship can be a very vague area to assess and the benefits can be wide ranging. A great example of one of our long-term rider support programmes is the K-UK Kinesis Race Team, which has provided us with invaluable information about the domestic race scene and a better understanding of our customers and how they might use the product.

In contrast we also have a couple of brands that have seen significant increases in exposure in the last 12 months. Danny MacAskill is now widely known and having our Atomlab logo on his rims and at the end of his YouTube hit video will no doubt have an effect on the brand’s future.

Another stark example of how team support can have a huge effect in a relatively short time-scale has been the Oval brand. Morgan Nicol of Oval Concepts built a close product development relationship with both Silence-Lotto and Slipstream, which saw Oval components being fitted to team bikes during the 2008 season. This resulted in a large amount of exposure in cycling press and on-line.

As a visible sponsor, Oval also benefitted from adverts placed by other team sponsors. All this coverage has really started to pay dividends with a noticeable rise in sales and demand during the 2009 season so far.
Tom Marchment, Sales and Marketing Manager, Upgrade

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