The Worst Advert Ever?

I wrote this earlier in the week but realised some readers might find it ‘inconvenient’ to read at work. So here’s something for the weekend…

For better or worse, we tend to forget most adverts. Now the worst can be so bad they get talked about, the free publicity generated here can be worthwhile, viral marketing is highly valuable.

But every now and then you get some adverts that are so bad you just want them to vanish from the collective human experience. Mere talk is enough to trash the underlying product’s reputation. Sadly the Sidi shoe campaign is one of these.

It takes riders and uses humiliating imagery that says nothing about the shoes, the rider and only succeeds in turning the aura of a champion into a figure of laughter and mockery.

You can see the adverts online at, simply choose your language, then cycling and then advertising and then look for the “play spot” link towards the top right of the window. Then let your jaw drop.


First up is Alberto Contador. Note the stern look, maybe he knows he’s selling out. Just look at the white suit he’s wearing. A white suit is hard to look good in, if you want the look then my advice is that it should be well cut and contrasted with something like a black tie.

But check Alberto’s open jacket and the big white bow tie. At best it brings images of a foppish clown, at worst I’m thinking of Thomas Mann’s “Death in Venice” and the predatory figure in the white suit who lusts after a boy, as played by Dirk Boogarde (pictured) in the film adaptation.

But if you thought that was bad…

Next, comes Pippo Pozzato. Yes, that’s him oiled up, naked – even waxed – and the video advert includes close ups of his abs, nipples, thighs and feet. How on earth will this make anyone buy a pair of shoes? I can accept some readers might find Pippo attractive but surely this makes people cringe? There’s no hint of Italian style, no illusion of success, no touch of class.

Not that this is unique to Sidi. Tom Boonen has posed for Northwave Shoes wearing a Roman footsoldier outfit, and far from promoting shoes, he looked ready for a toga party in a gay sauna.

If you can’t cope with any more homo-erotic images…

Here’s Mario Cipollini. Cognoscenti will note Filippo Casagrande and Giorgio Furlan in the background on the left and, I think, Massimilliano Lelli. The Tuscan turbo may look daft with the musketeer/MC Hammer look but at least he’s in command, it says “the guy gets the girl“, that everything has a happy ending.