Boost the recognition of cycling by handing David Beckham £150 000. That’s the big idea of US-owned PR and political lobbying consultancy Golin Harris Ludgate, called in to make a presentation at yesterday’s AGM of the Bicycle Association of GB. Ian Beasant of Giant had a more down-to-earth idea - £85k could fund a professional roadshow at mainstream public events that attract 1m consumers a year

Spend it like Beckham

Amy Leonard of Golin Harris Ludgate had two plans. A long-term promotional campaign with a budget of £210 000 per year over five years (£120 000 in fees, £90 000 for school information packs), and a short-term filip for the industry by getting a major figure such as David Beckham to be seen astride a bike (on the plus side, he and Victoria bought a JCB bike for Brooklyn at Xmas but on the downside most professional footballers are banned from cycling because it’s too “dangerous”).

£150 000 would be the one-off fee to the celeb, £20 000 would be spent on support materials and Golin Harris would pocket £60 000.

Both of these campaigns could be funded by BA members if they stopped discounting their products, said Leonard in a disjointed presentation. AGM visitors listened politely and the post-presentation applause was respectful but there was little apparent enthusiasm for paying an outside agency a whopping retainer, plus a ‘success fee’, for a mish-mash of unfocussed ideas (to top it all even the tired ‘virtuous circle’ was wheeled out and dished up as fresh thinking).

There was also much potential for confusion as a key element of the long-term Golin Harris pro-cycling plan was to target schools with pro-cycling information packs. Laudable, of course, but getting schools turned on to cycling is already being implemented by both Sustrans and British Cycling.

However, Golin Harris Ludgate has impeccable political credentials. As well as clients such as Lego through to the John Lewis Partnership, it was Golin Harris Ludgate which ran the year 2000 London mayoral campaign of Steven Norris, the pro-cycling ex transport minister who helped get the National Cycling Strategy off the ground and who is now the first Chair of the National Cycling Strategy Board.

Ian Beasant’s ideas were accepted more readily by those at the AGM, partly because they were relatively cheap to implement but also because they were tightly focussed, eminently achievable and could be run under the direct control of the industry. Beasent (seen below) wants the BA to organise a consumer-facing roadshow to be rolled out at major summer shows such as the Town and Country Festival (110 000 visitors) and the East of England Show (150 000 visitors).

Attending the ten shows he highlighted would get cycling in front of one million people over the year, said Beasant. His Pedal Power plan is based on the success of the Giant/IPC/SRAM roadshows of 2001 where Beasant saw at first hand the potential of taking cycling to a non-cycling audience. For £85 000 a year the BA could pay for an roadshow organiser, a well-equipped trailer full of pro-cycling information, and the kit to lay out a 200 sq m test track. Beasant believes the BA and ‘stakeholders’ could easily pool resources to raise £50 000 with commercial sponsorship making up the shortfall. The stakeholders in the Pedal Power roadshow would be the BA, the ACT, CTC, Sustrans and British Cycling.

“My experience last year shows this sort of roadshow works,” said Beasent.

“Funding it costs a tiny amount compared to the visibility benefits a roadshow brings. There are lots of good things happening in cycling, but no bugger knows about it. This could be a start.”

BA president Patrick Barker agreed, confirming that the set-up costs were minimal. He also upped the stakes by saying such a roadshow could take a central position at next year’s The Outdoors Show. The ACT, CTC and a few bike companies attended this new NEC show earlier in the year, and reported good business being done.

“We could spend £50 000 and have a central presence at The Outdoors Show,” said Barker.

“35 percent of those who attended the show included cycling as one of the outdoor activities they took part in. Two percent said it was their main sport. There’s a huge potential to convert more outdoor people to cycling.”

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