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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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Angela Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 7:16 pm

    All that Vaughters needed was the white persian to do the complete impression of Blofeld spinning a web of world cycling domination.

    • Vera Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 1:13 pm

      So true.

  • Gavin Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 7:42 pm

    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.

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 8:05 pm

      Quick translation:
      Madiot: “hey, what’s he doing”
      Man: “Oh, I lost”
      Madiot: “Lost? Lost what?…[looks outside]… Hey, what’s wrong with you, that’s my car!”

  • Al-Bo Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 7:52 pm

    I’ve seen Wiggins in a few Sky adverts recently.

  • Steve Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 7:55 pm

    Technology will trump tradition, US tour challenge’s tracking app was very cool.
    Love to see similar applications in European races.

  • Neil Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 8:28 pm

    HTC-Columbia had telemetry a couple of years back (http://googleblog.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/follow-team-htc-columbia-on-google-maps.html). It was pretty interesting to watch in combination with the TV feed.

  • dubtap Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 8:42 pm

    Sharp UK are using a pic of Tyler winning a stage on the packaging of flat screen TVs here in the UK


  • Anonymous Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 8:43 pm

    Gerolsteiner had a good set of adverts for the 2008 they came out each day and had the miles till Paris

  • Martin Gutierrez Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 8:50 pm

    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 😀

    • Eb in AZ Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 4:34 am

      Yes, it was great to see the guys out and about. I was chugging up Mt Lemmon when they passed me, did a double take, not something you see every day.

      • Martin Gutierrez Thursday, 10 January 2013, 2:07 am

        I am quite jealous… I was either working or riding in the wrong area of town when they were here /=

  • Citrus City Cyclist Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 9:15 pm

    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.

  • Fondo Rider Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 9:25 pm

    But what has happened to the Vector?

  • Rick R Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 9:26 pm

    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).

  • Patrick Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 9:44 pm

    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.

  • Dustin Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 9:55 pm

    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.

  • Ian Murphy Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 10:41 pm

    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).

    • Shawn Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 11:29 pm

      I too just bought an Edge 500 last spring. Too bad because that tracking feature would help me to avoid mid-ride calls from home asking whether I’ll be back in time.

      • Maddave Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 1:49 pm


      • Kyle V. Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 8:10 pm


  • Down Under Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 11:08 pm

    Subaru Australia is a co-sponsor of Orica-GreenEDGE. They used Matt Goss to demonstrate their EyeSight technology: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wv-ZNVGTYW4

  • tonyrone Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 11:34 pm

    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.

  • puddle jumper Tuesday, 8 January 2013, 11:36 pm

    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.

  • Deserthead Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 12:01 am

    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

  • Eb in AZ Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 4:39 am

    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?

  • Dieter Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 8:35 am

    It’s hard to take seriously when it shows Dan Martin brushing his teeth. That’s just too unbelievable.

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 11:08 am

      Post of the day!

      • Dustin Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 11:56 am

        I second that!

  • AK Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 9:41 am

    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.

  • bikecellar Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 10:04 am

    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.

  • Soab Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 3:02 pm

    Even smarter, they managed to get their co-sponsor Sharp some air time in that ad.

  • Simon E Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 3:17 pm

    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 (http://video.saxobank.com/video/7497455/team-saxo-tinkoff-members). No offence to the riders, but it’s dull very predictable. A wasted opportunity IMHO.

  • roadslave525 Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 3:25 pm

    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.

  • Bufzilla Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 3:25 pm

    Lance has got the ultimate ad coming up – Oprah!

  • roadslave525 Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 3:29 pm

    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.

  • woody maxwell Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 3:35 pm

    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.

  • Yoav Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 6:12 pm

    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!

  • disgruntledgoat Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 6:42 pm

    Less good for cheating husbands using the old “im going out for a ride” though. When will somebody give them a break?

  • Peter Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 6:58 pm

    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.

  • Name Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 8:30 pm

    What can I say? That’s sharp.

  • hoh Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 9:01 pm


    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.

  • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 9:38 pm

    Team Sky try a video about success, the highs and lows:
    African newcomers MTN-Qhubeka have a quick film too:

  • Chrisman Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 9:53 pm

    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’

  • Peter Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 10:10 pm

    Chrisman – Wow. Nothing else. Just wow.

  • Gavin Thursday, 10 January 2013, 10:36 am

    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?

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 10 January 2013, 10:44 am

      Yes SRM did it until 2011 but it was banned for the 2012 Tour after the UCI rejected it.

  • David Mclean Thursday, 10 January 2013, 12:23 pm

    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…

  • ChrisO Thursday, 10 January 2013, 2:13 pm

    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.

  • gregario Thursday, 10 January 2013, 8:32 pm

    Re: Garmin’s Genius – Does anyone have a name and contact for the production company behind The Edge:Let others follow ?

    • Elliot Friday, 11 January 2013, 12:56 pm

      Im not 100% sure about this one, but similar ones like the winter training vid were done by Make Studio. Hats off to them I love the Garmin stuff, usually hate advertising of any sort.


  • Rocks Roots Road Monday, 14 January 2013, 1:15 pm

    Jaguar making most of Team Sky Connection:

  • Chippy Gardner Tuesday, 15 January 2013, 3:27 pm

    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.

  • simon Tuesday, 15 January 2013, 4:54 pm

    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.

  • gregario Tuesday, 15 January 2013, 7:28 pm

    Many thanks to Elliot for putting me on to makestudio. Andreas Hafele is the director of ‘The Edge’ along with ‘The Climb’, – http://www.hafzoo.com 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?

    • Elliot Wednesday, 16 January 2013, 10:10 pm

      Thanks for the hafzoo link, lovely stuff

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