How To Sell Hope

Disclosure #1: This post is rife with speculation. I have no evidence of my conclusion; only what I've learned in (gulp) nearly 20 years of professional marketing.

Disclosure #2: I have a horse in this race and so my opinion likely isn't objective. Then again, I'm of the opinion that few opinions are.

So the news this week is that the Team Type 1 professional cycling team has NOT been invited to this year's Tour de California, despite an impressive showing at that race and bigger races over the past several years. Here's a news article about that.

Why do these things happen?

Nobody knows, because races aren't required to say why they don't invite you. That said, one of the logical reasons being offered (and one I agree with) is that the news isn't really that Team Type 1 didn't get invited to the Tour de California, but that Team Type 1 - SANOFI did not get invited to the AMGEN Tour de California. You see, AMGEN and SANOFI happen to be major competitors. Don't believe me? Read here or any of the other stock reports.

The fact of the matter is this: if you're a brand marketer, you need to do more than plaster your logo somewhere. You need to have a story that people can grab onto. Cycling fans (and most sports fans) DON'T relate to races; they relate to the riders. SANOFI has figured that out, and rather than hitching their logo to a race, they've hitched it to human beings who can tell stories that give people hope. And if you look at the comments on the Tour de California Facebook page, these guys give people a lot of hope. And I suspect that on some level Amgen knew that the stories of the SANOFI riders would resonate with fans moreso than a logo on a banner.

It should also be noted that before I wrote this post, I waited to see what the cycling community would say. It's easy for a diabetic to be outraged by this, but I've come to accept that if you're fortunate enough to be untouched by this disease, good for you. But I wondered, does the average cycling fan think Team Type 1 should be there? Judging by the comments at velonews (largely by people unaffected by diabetes), they do.

In the end, we won't know the reasons by Team Type 1 was left out anymore than we know why Jelly Belly was left out. But as a marketer, my guess is this: AMGEN didn't want to be upstaged by the inspirational stories of the riders of SANOFI, which had figured out how to beat them to the hearts and minds of their similar audiences.

Your move: I posted the link to the Amgen Tour de California Facebook Page up above. Feel free to visit and let them know what you think about the exclusion.


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