Observations by Tricia Heywood

So back to the sponsors. The Tour de France official website lists 44 official suppliers and partners, including broadcast and technical partners. Each has their opportunity for brand exposure, much of which happens in the publicity caravan. But the caravan does not get much TV time, at least not what I could see and I watched the tour coverage on French television and back in NY on Versus, the NBC owned sports network which covered the entire tour live and consumed a lot of my time this July.

The brands that get the most out of the TV coverage are the team sponsors. As mentioned, there are 22 teams. Each consists of nine riders. That’s nine jerseys plus cycling shorts covered in the team sponsor logos, plus the support vehicles, bikes and water bottles. Now, with generally four hours of live TV coverage for each of the 21 stages of the race, that’s a lot of time for marketable moments and brand exposure.

Team Garmin-Cervelo, incidentally my team of choice, cleaned up this year. They won best overall team which means they also enjoyed their team members out front in the small breakaway groups getting maximum TV time. First, world champion and lead rider of the Germin-Cervelo team, Thor Hushovd, sprinted to third place in the opening stage. Next, the team powered to victory in the stage 2 team time trial putting Hushovd into the yellow jersey. The team defended the jersey until stage nine, with all the TV exposure that goes with that. Hushovd ‘s giving credit for his win to his Cervelo S5 highly aerodynamic bike was a major branding coup for the Toronto based bike manufacturer. On top of that, Tyler Farrar wore the green jersey in stage 4. In all, that’s a lot of podium time, interviews, TV exposure and newspaper mentions.

You may be wondering, okay great but what is the cost to the team sponsors and what is the ROI? Lucky for me, I am not the only one motivated to write about this topic. According to John W. Miller in his article the WSJ last Friday, coverage of the Tour reaches an estimated 2.5 billion sets of eyeballs. Miller also wrote that, according to research done by IFM, a sports research company, the exposure value of the Tour de France is anywhere from $8 million for a lower ranking team to $100 million for teams with top finishers. The cost of entry? Generally less than $20 million for a year and that includes the exposure they get through other races and activities. That team cost is often split between two or more sponsors, bringing the price tag down further.

I for one am seriously contemplating getting a Garmin GPS unit for my new GT road bike, which I fall deeper in love with every ride. And I’m already plotting my next bike trip to Northeast France where I’m sure to be reunited with many of the brands I was introduced to by the 2011 Tour de France. If you’d like to see my photos of the 2011 Tour, I can send you a link. Just email me at  [email protected]