Lynn Bye on: Running sportives to increase brand awareness

I’ll be honest; we’ve had some frustrating conversations with organisations that think relationships with businesses are limited to receiving hefty corporate donations. Some just don’t understand that we might have more to offer, that our brand and community present them with a real opportunity to engage with their own target audience and empower and encourage them to change their lives.

Thankfully, as Fat Lad At The Back has grown, we have had less convincing to do – the brand speaks for itself now. The strength of our community, known as “The Bulge”, and the positive effect that our brand has is clear just from a quick glance at our social media accounts. Fat Lad At The Back has never focused simply on selling jerseys. It’s always been about building our community of cyclists, and from that we’ve been able to build our brand. It’s hard not to get emotional when we hear the moving stories of people who have discovered the joys of participation and inclusion, and it’s fulfilling
to know that what we do is
making a positive difference in thousands of lives.

We are now enjoying our third year of organising sportives, and have created a distinctive atmosphere for our events. This helps showcase a core ethos, build brand awareness and promote our community to a much wider audience.

We have become known for delivering friendly sportives, and are now proud to be associated with heritage brands like Leeds United Football Club and Rugby League’s Huddersfield Giants. In both collaborations, we’ve delivered fundraising events with participation and inclusion at their hearts. Proper food at the lunch stops is a big deal for our community, and our FLambassador riders are on-site to offer tips and support to other riders and make sure nobody gets left behind.

In May, we joined the Giants for a 120-mile bike ride, raising money in memory of late Giants youth player Ronan Costello, and receiving media coverage on BBC television, ITV and Sky Sports News, and regional press.

When Leeds United approached us with plans for a sportive, we were delighted, in particular because we share many of the same goals. We’ve partnered with sports brands that have always interacted with their local communities. Our all-inclusive ethos, paired with our success in encouraging all sorts of people to ride bikes and adopt a fitter and healthier lifestyle, made us an ideal partner to deliver the message of participation, empowering people onto the saddle. The growth of cycling as a pastime has opened up an opportunity for the brands that we collaborate with to engage with and promote a healthy lifestyle to an extremely broad fanbase.

The Leeds United Sportive, like all our events, caters for three levels of rider: beginner, intermediate and experienced. We’re expecting about 1,000 riders to participate, so there’s a lot to think about and organise. The route sets off from Leeds United’s stadium and heads up Elland Road and into the Calder Valley. It passes through some of the towns worst hit by the floods of 2015, including Sowerby Bridge, Todmorden, Ripponden, Elland and Hebden Bridge. Funds raised through sportive sign-ups are destined for the Watermark Flood Fund Calderdale campaign, which has been set up to grow a pot of money that can be accessed by businesses and households in the affected areas.

The Leeds United Sportive takes place on September 17th, 2017 – you can register on the Fat Lad at the Back website.

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