Welcome to the 2015 edition of What The Tour de France Can Teach You About Advertising. I’ve had difficulty keeping up with this year’s Tour as well as I have in years past and hence, I’m a bit late with this post. And, if you want to get all caught up with my previous editions, you can do so here, here, here, here, here, and here.
One question I’m often asked about the Tour is, why are groups of two, three, four or five riders allowed to breakaway to a big lead during a stage and how does the larger pack of riders almost always decide to chase them down? The simple answer to the first part of that question is, in most cases, riders that are allowed to break away aren’t contenders to win the overall Tour title. Hence, the larger pack of riders (including the race leaders) are often content to sit back and ride at a slightly more relaxed pace and let some riders who are no threat for the podium pick up some small time bonuses and camera time for their sponsors. (Note, there are a whole lot more complicated tactics involved in both the breakaway and the chase, but we’ll save those for another day.)
Now, as to how the pack catches a breakaway’s lead stretching to five minutes or more, the answer is simply one of numbers. Which is to say, a group of 80 or 100 riders can ride much faster than a smaller group of two or five. How? By riding in what’s known as one big echelon paceline, where one rider or group of riders goes to the front, rides as hard as he can for a minute or so, then drops back and lets fresher legs set the pace while the riders behind the leader pedal faster and work less as long as there are riders in front of them blocking the wind.
The enemy of any cyclist is wind resistance. Hence, while a group of five riders can work together to form a paceline with one man leading the pace and blocking the wind, a larger group can do so more efficiently, with less work and greater speed. That’s why, on most flat stages of the Tour when a breakaway goes up the road, the larger peleton of riders usually has no problem chasing them down once it decides to do so.
So where’s the advertising lesson in all of this? If you’re advertising and promoting your business, you need to think like the pack and not the breakaway. That is, remember that an organized, extended campaign will promote your business much better than a hastily thrown together media campaign designed for a quick hit.
Think of your promotional messages, whatever form they take, as a fresh rider at the front of the pace line. Just as a rider will rotate to the head of the paceline, ride hard to set the pace, then drop back in favor of fresher legs, think of each promotional message you produce, be it print, broadcast, direct mail, or social media, as a fresh set of legs powering your company’s brand awareness. And, just as a pack of 100 riders can go much faster than a group of five in a breakaway, a larger advertising campaign with a greater reach making more impressions will keep your brand fresh on the minds of your consumer.
In other words, the more wheels you have spinning faster to promote your business, the farther your sales will go!
See also: How Cool Do You Want To Be