Wheels on Fire-April 2012
April brings a different kind of rush hour. Winter-weary Minnesotans clog bike paths as the Twin Cities competes with Portland and Boulder to be the best bike city in America.
This didn’t happen by accident. The rise in biking is attributed to many factors, including a desire (or doctor’s orders) to get fit, as well as new bike paths and lanes. But it’s also due to awareness created by savvy marketers partnering with ad agencies.
One such partnership is between bikemaker Cannondale and Colle+McVoy, the Minneapolis-based agency. C+M, a 205-employee, $210 million-billing shop, creates print and TV ads for Cannondale. It also produced the template for an old-school media form loved by bicyclists: catalogs. “Catalog work is still important these days,” says Mike Cagun, executive creative director at C+M. “Dealers still find it a good tool; you just don’t walk in and buy a bike.”
This love of gear works well for Cannondale, which sells high-end bikes but also entry-level models. Print ads feature the implied endorsement of cycling pros, despite the doping scandals that have marred the sport.
But C+M isn’t selling to the professional racing circuit. Rather it’s selling bikes to amateurs, however fast they may go. “We’re trying to target cycling enthusiasts,” says Caguin. “People who really are at the forefront of technology and innovation—some have bikes that are worth more than their automobiles.”
C+M would not disclose billings, but did buy print ads in enthusiast magazines (“Enthusiasts love reading these magazines cover to cover,” Caguin says.), as well as TV spots in U.S. coverage of the Tour de France and Tour de California. And beyond the catalog work, a digital campaign emerged as well. (Overall, 44 percent of C+M’s work is digital.)
But it might be biking infrastructure that drives bike sales more than media. “The more safe pathways we create, the more people will be inclined to get back on two wheels just like when they were kids,” concludes Caguin.
He should know. He bikes to C+M year-round.