Did you know â€œ47% of spectatorsâ€ at Le Tour de France donâ€™t come to see the race?*
What rival pageantÂ could drive such a spectacular display of fandom you ask?
Read on to find out.
The Tour is well under way in 2016 and weâ€™ve already seen great feats of strength, a harrowing descent by Chris Froome, and prematureÂ dropouts from notable twin-wheel-titans. But, if you have even a loose affiliation with cycling, you know that riders compete for more than glory.
Professional cycling, much like NASCAR, is a bold display of brand trademarks. As competitors brave the Alps and Pyrenees or churn relentlessly around the Champsâ€“Ã‰lysÃ©es, this is not just a show of super-human endurance, but also marketing on a Herculean scale. You may not know, however, that in 1930, race directors removed branded team names from the event in hopes of shifting focus again to national glory (it worked out well for France that year).
Brand names were instead relegated to the pre-race Publicity Caravan, essentially a Mardi Gras parade for big business. Teams would once again don branded jerseys in 1969, but the Publicity Caravan continues to thriveâ€”proving that once you let marketing in and feed it, it never goes away.
Hereâ€™s a few stats from the caravan:
A brief perusal of #LaCaravaneduTour or @CaravaneduTour on Twitter or Facebook will bring up some of the best tomfoolery from this yearâ€™s event. While we may not have a shot at the Tour de France, weâ€™re pretty excited about starting on next yearâ€™s Tidal Wave float. As a parting shot, hereâ€™s a recap from 2009 with a musical score befitting a box officeÂ hitÂ from Mel Gibson. (The Oscar-winning Mel. Not the angry version.)
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