Garmin’s Genius

Last year’s video of Christophe Le Mevel soaring above the snowline was a good video and now Garmin have a fresh advert for their new devices featuring their team’s riders and of course the features of the product.

This blog isn’t in the habit of hosting ads for free nor wowing because a rider endorses a product. But a quick note about this clever promotion that explains the product but also exploits the obvious links to the team, famous riders and reaches out to the fans. Why isn’t every other cycling sponsor doing the same?

The ad showcases a new function. When coupled with a smartphone the GPS device will send co-ordinates to a Garmin website allowing others to track the rider as they do their thing. Before you get excited ahead of the 2013 racing season note this is banned in competition as for now the UCI forbids telemetry so you won’t be able to follow a race live.

This tracking feature could be essential for likes of Alex Rasmussen or Yoann Offredo to prevent WADA Whereabouts mistakes. But for everyone else? Well it’s ok if you’re a pro sitting around with nothing to do but drain a cup of coffee. But for “civilians” this could be a most frustrating application. You could be locked in work or stuck in the car only for your phone to beep. You discover a friend asks you to follow them as they go for a spin. Surely the only thing worse than missing a ride is knowing that someone else is out there riding whilst you’re not?

But the cleverest feature is the ad itself, the way it uses high quality photography, well known riders and the product to make a clip that fans will watch. It’s remarkable because not many others do it.

When was the last time you saw Cadel Evans doing a video for BMC? Have you seen Thomas Voeckler pulling faces as he drives a Europcar rental across the Pyrenees? Is there a Pinarello advert with Wiggins? This isn’t to say it’s not done, last summer several adverts were covered on here. It’s more that these stand out as rare exceptions. A highlight from last summer was this clip for scratch cards from the French state lottery, better known as FDJ.

But these things are rare. Yes we have posters of riders winning races in bike shops and some smaller sponsors try to exploit the links, for example the Quickstep riders posing for latex pillows. And of course, publicity on TV is the main value. But smaller examples can help reach the target audience

Team bikes
Take the team bike. It might be a workhorse but it is also a valuable consumer good. Every team website lists the riders and their bios but not all state what bikes the team rides; it took some detective work to compile my list of 2013 pro team bikes when it should be really easy to learn every detail of each team’s machine all year long.

The genius of the Garmin promotion is the way it uses its riders to explain the product in a message that many will watch and understand. Sponsors can have up to 30 riders on their books and winning races isn’t the only way to promote a brand.

56 thoughts on “Garmin’s Genius”

  1. Anyone translate the FDJ scratcher commercial to English? Would love to understand the dialogue – Madiot’s screams from the car were pretty easy to interpret at the TdF.

  2. That Garmin commercial is pretty rad, it’s one of those clips that inspires a bit of riding. Also pretty psyched that they used Tucson AZ and Mt. Lemmon in the end 😀

  3. So smart to package it this way: rapt attention for 4 minutes of advert. I can’t stand the mere seconds worth of Basso and Nibali cooking Sidi’s, let alone some of the other ad’s out there and I would watch this more than once to pick up on things I probably missed. Thanks for passing it along.

  4. Well crafted Garmin ad, looks like audience are Garmin shareholders out to rule the world (and they pretty much do with GPS based computers and devices). Even though I speak no French, the FDJ ad was hilarious. These ads are very much in the same vein as other well done pro athlete ads in the US – from mean Joe Greene to Peyton and Eli on the ESPN set (even Armstrong’s was good).

  5. i’d say its maybe not entirely the sponsors fault but also the team’s. the teams need to be actively trying to add value to their sponsors in conjunction with the sponsor’s marketing division. make it clear that as part of the deal the sponsors get access to some known sports stars to feature in their ads. allocate some of the off-season to working on these.

    it seems there are a few teams, most notably garmin-sharp who do this but most seem to see the team-sponsor relationship as more of a static one-way street. another way in which cycling needs to modernise to survive.

    i know most of the sponsors in the world tour’s names very well but there are a number of them that i don’t really even know what they do. the name recognition is huge, with just a bit more effort to associate that with their products the actual benefit to sponsors would also be huge and we wouldn’t see so many teams and events struggling to survive.

  6. I follow this site everyday and this is my first post. What a great video. I work in the visual marketing/branding arena and this has to be one of the best ad’s for a brand I have seen in a long time. The message is not about slapping your logo but more about the riders, which happens to be what its all about. Garmin had to do very little image branding and just let the great photography, music, and star riders do their thing. The impact was what I always strive for is that “simple is better.” Thanks for sharing.

  7. Cracking advert. If I hadn’t bought an Edge 500 last year I’d be in line for one of the new ones now for sure.

    Oh and Garmin just became my favourite team… (I’m fickle like that).

  8. telemetry is the future,the amgen tour having flirted with it producing great on screen visuals for the viewer sat at home ,so I say the sooner its brought in the better.

  9. What Apple did to complacent smartphone makers (Treo, Blackberry), Garmin did to cycling computer industry. Look at Shimano Flightdeck or Campy Ergobrain. Try to compare them with any Garmin. I showed a friend how to use his Garmin 500 the other day, and he couldn’t believe the dozens of metrics you can pack into the flippable “pages”. Pairs in seconds with SRM, Quarq or Powertap; software updates. It’s a revolutionary device. Good on Garmin.

  10. Why isn’t every sponsor basing their advertising campaigns around individual riders?

    Gee, let me guess, might be something to do with the high chance your team’s star rider is pumping all manner of dodgy substances into their veins and is a lying cheating fraudster who might get popped at any moment. At least Garmin, who sponsor what appears to be a clean team, don’t have that fear

  11. did I miss something or is the safety aspect of value? This is GPS tracking, when the dot stops moving the worrying wife can call me. Flat tire? Crash? Dead? Could this be tied to EMS?

  12. Maybe something to factor in as well: Garmin is a big international electronics company. They have the money to spend on slick advertising, and it is customary in that business. Most other bike equipment sponsors are smaller companies, and they mainly make bikes. Even here in the Netherlands, with some of the highest bike sales per person in the world, I’ve never seen a TV commercial for a bike, they mostly advertise in magazines etc. I have seen plenty of Rabobank mortgage commercials featuring cyclists and hockey players. Those did not look as slick but I’m pretty sure that was a deliberate choice.

  13. Well it’s certainly got me into purchasing mode, suddenly my little old yellow powertap cpu (circa 2007) seems so last century, now if an update to an Edge 810 could deliver on that 6w/kg as well, where’ my debit card! Nice shots of Girona and Catalonia as well. Downside – bit like being tagged.

  14. Everyone wins with content like this – even the bike, component and other sponsors can cite this kind of thing as something they’re happy to be involved with; the magic can rub off on all concerned.

    While not made with the same goals, compare it with a video of Michael Rogers and Nicolas Roche’s visit to Saxo Bank HQ ( No offence to the riders, but it’s dull very predictable. A wasted opportunity IMHO.

  15. I really like this advert – it makes me: i) want to ride; ii) want to upgrade my Garmin; and iii) smile. I find the (what I hope is self-) parodisation hilarious: David Millar, supping his espresso in an orange tee and brown cardigan that totally coordinates with his, errr, kitchen (!) is just subtle and brilliant. Vaughters’ tweed, I fear, is not self-parody, but the whole ‘Vaughter’s control room’ thang is really cool. Hesjedal lounging around watching cartoons with his Maglia Rosa casually draped nearby, watching cartoons is funny. And Dan Martin is, well, Dan Martin: climbing like a demon out of Girona. I haven’t enjoyed a proper, professionally done cycling advert since the series of Dick’s Sporting Goods ‘Manager Armstrong’ series… Uh oh.

  16. obviously shouldn’t have written ‘watching cartoons’ twice. Apologies. I’m guessing that we are going to see a LOT of Rapha / Sky adverts and videos coming out… but the angst just may be too much: Garmin got it just right.

  17. I don’t have a smart phone but riding with one of those Garmin’s would be great for my wife to know where I am. I often ride alone so a nice safety feature.

  18. Hang on, every smartphone has a GPS chip already so why do you need a new Garmin? Surely a 69p app could do the same thing. Of course, whose to say there will be a mobile phone signal in them thar hills!

  19. It would be cool if the team would make ride tracking publicly available, to see what the riders are doing on a daily basis. This would probably bring up security concerns if we could see where riders were at any given time during training, but perhaps they could turn it on publicly for all riders when the team is running training camps (where they are in a group, supported by team cars, and possibly in remote locations).

    There’s a lot more they could do with this.


    Speaking of videos and films, got to give Rapha some credit then. Nice features with the continental team riding with epic American riders (Lemond instead of Lance, which is good ) at beautiful locations (not all of which are well known with rich cycling history, which is again a good thing).

    Besides, background musics are good. Hope they’d release the CD.

  21. Any idea if the rumour that LA is going to ‘singfess’ on Oprah is true? BTW if you don’t know what singfess is, it’s when the lights dim, the house band plays the first few bars to ‘Careless Whisper’ and you rise from the sofa saying ‘Well Oprah, I’ve had a lot on my mind lately…..(emotional gurn) I’M NEVER GONNA DOPE AGAIN, GUILTY PEDALS GOT NO RHYTHM, THOUGH IT’S EASY TO PRETEND, I KNOW YOU’RE NOT A FOOL….(more emotion now) I SHOULD’VE KNOWN BETTER THAN TO CHEAT A FRIEND, WASTE THIS CHANCE THAT I’VE BEEN GIVEN, SO I’M NEVER GONNA DOPE AGAIN, SORRY BETTY ANDREU-HEU-HEU….HE-HE-HE-HEU-U-HEU-U, HE-HE-HE-HEU-U-HEU-U’

  22. Hey Inrng, you say UCI bans telemetry but I’m sure I remember watching a TDF where SRM provided telemetry on a few riders.
    Anyone else remember this?

  23. My feeling is that the reason other sponsors don’t do this is because the teams are only there ostensibly for brand promotion. In the main they are actually little more than executive toys, the sponsors aren’t looking for a return but for a good time. They can’t measure the return in any reasonable fashion anyway.

    The reasons sponsors sponsor cycling at the top level (with usually short-lived exceptions) are emotional ones not commercial ones, even if the decision makers fully convince themselves it is the latter.

    People buy top bike teams for the same reason they buy works of art or race horses. By buying in this way it inevitably prices the genuine sponsors out of the market, making it far less commercially viable.

    I could very well be wrong though…

  24. There’s another factor, which is that shooting good advertisements usually takes a hell of a lot of time.

    You don’t really want your riders doing too much of that sort of thing.

  25. Working in TV production, I’d guess at a 10 day shoot schedule, 2 week edit, 1 week post (at best, depending on Garmins passing it) £250-£300k to produce.

  26. The films are fab, no doubt. Seductive, inspiring and the Vaughters-as-Blofeld cameo, just hilarious.

    But the bad thing is . . . . .the 810 just doesn’t justify the commerical. Live tracking is a useless gimmick (which you can already do with a smart phone in your pocket and any one of a number of apps) Live Weather is insanely useless bollox . . . I know what the weather is, I’m on my bike! I wouldn’t mind knowing there’s a shower 8 miles ahead . . . . . . but the prediction will never be that local as it links to weather stations 30 or 50 miles distant. And Garmin haven’t fixed the single biggest flaw of the 800, which is a crap display.

    Neither has Garmin partnered with Strava to integrate on the 810, which is a crying shame. What you want is your 810 to tell you where the next segment starts/finishes and how your pace is on it compared to the leaderboard, in real time. All possible, just ignored.

    Great ad, shame about the product. I’ll be sticking with the 800.

  27. Many thanks to Elliot for putting me on to makestudio. Andreas Hafele is the director of ‘The Edge’ along with ‘The Climb’, – is well worth a look for the full story. Good to see such crisp cinematography.
    re: Chippy Gardner working in tv production – what would be your ball-park production budget for one cameraman on a motorbike shooting an entire GT stage race?

Comments are closed.