I know it’s all over the Tour de France, but you somehow become oblivious to it–until something happens, like a rider blasts up a climb on an attack, and you realize that you’re reading “Kazakhstan Railways” on his ass.
And after a week or so, I’d more or less forgotten that Bouygues Telecom, Agritubel, and Credit Agricole are all sponsor names (that is, until the Discovery Channel team, or Liquigas, does something).
But as the New York Times points out today,
The presence of advertising at the Tour can hardly be overstated. Each of the main prizes in the race — for the overall winner, the best mountain climber, the best sprinter and so forth — conforms to the colors or logo of its corporate sponsor. The race is preceded each day over its entire route by a publicity caravan, a mile-long parade of 45 corporate floats.
But beyond being a corporatstravaganza, the Times suggests that the riders’ efforts–even the race tactics–aren’t completely immune to promotion.
“It’s just a great advertising board,” said Bradley Wiggins, a British rider who went on a solo breakaway of 118 miles in the sixth stage. Wiggins’s effort was particularly appreciated at the offices of his team’s sponsor, Cofidis, a French company that provides consumer loans.
“I had nearly four hours television coverage the other day on my own, which is for free in many respects,” Wiggins said. “If Cofidis were to buy that advertising space, it would cost them a lot of money.”
So. Sure glad we got past that doping scandal, so the sport can be pure again.
Look! It’s NASCAR in lycra!