I launch a men’s cycling range

November 5, 2014 at 9:09 pm | Posted in cycling, marketing | 2 Comments
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Did you realise I had a cycling apparel company? I know! I haven’t had to advertise much. Our core market is women, of course: our range of superbly-cut, technically innovative performance gear in a spectrum of eye-catching, grown-up colours has been flying off the shelves. The revolutionary seaming on our skinsuits has sports scientists rubbing their thighs in wind tunnels up and down the country. Our edgy-but-hardwearing off-road kit is sported by the most fearsome women in the business.

It’s been so crazily successful that we’ve decided to take the plunge. While it’s seen as a risky move, given that the market is so unpredictable and the costs of manufacture are so high, I’m incredibly excited to announce that we’re launching… a men’s range.

We know from market research that men don’t want to stand out. They don’t like competing: it might make them unpopular. Men support and nurture each other. They don’t like getting all sweaty and messing up their beards. Men’s cycling is about friendship, happiness and fun. Our new men’s range reflects all these values.

Our camera chick’s on holiday at the moment, shredding Mongolian trails and sampling the local firewater, so I’ll have to give you the written outline. But I’m sure you can visualise it. This is our promotional video. We’re very proud.

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UntitledThe sun shines. Three slim, artfully-coiffed twentysomething boys of a variety of ethnicities tumble out of a café, laughing and joshing one another. They wear a coordinated range of impeccably clean urban cyclewear. As they strap on their combat-look ‘it’s more of a hat, really’ helmets and unlock their sparkling city bikes, jolly music plays: the carefree, happy-go-lucky kind with whistling, and ukuleles, or maybe banjos. One boy pops a colourful backpack into his front basket; another puts a small dog in his trailer. They teeter off on traffic-free roads, pointing out things in electrical shop windows to each other. One freewheels delightedly, his Converse-clad feet sticking out adorably to each side. Another tries to do a trackstand; his mates giggle and help him up.

Cut to the same three boys, this time in race-cut performance gear. Their shorts ride up over their unmuscled thighs; their overworked biceps strain the cuffs on their jerseys. Closeups reveal that the jerseys are adorned with swirls of footballs and tiny pint glasses. The shorts feature camouflage flashes. Their drop-handlebar bikes are matt black, with flames painted along the top tube; army green, with stars and stripes; navy blue, with mod targets. They ride unsteadily in single file along an empty country road, elbows locked, helmets loosely buckled, saddles low.

Cut to one of the boys straddling his top tube. He lifts a gleaming bidon to his mouth and drinks from it, his perfect profile silhouetted against the blue sky. Another boy offers him an energy bar; he smiles, breaks a chunk off and nibbles it.

Scouting AheadCut to the boys perching on a wall, their bikes leant up against it. They take selfies, arms around each other. One tries to feed a sheep a sandwich.

Final cut, to two of the boys sitting in a pub garden, in more perfectly-clean cycling gear. The third boy appears with a tray of halves of cider. They clink glasses, throw their heads back with perfect-toothed laughter, and pick at gourmet burgers.

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There. That shouldn’t scare anyone off, should it?

This post owes a lot to the Bechdel Test, and Elly Blue’s Bike Test. Sarah Connolly also writes very well about similar issues, as does Collyn Ahart.


The war on columnists

November 7, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Posted in cycling | 1 Comment
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Statistics show that, despite the so-called ‘war on columnists’, ad hominem attacks on columnists are still depressingly rare. As a cyclist, I’m concerned that more columnists aren’t being tortured horribly and sadistically with multitools. These pyjama prats, with their expensive laptops and fatuous cups of tea, hold up the rest of us with their self-righteous opinions while we try to get somewhere important, like the film section. It’s worst at the weekend, with armies of them writing two or even three abreast with no thought for busy readers trying to get past them to find out when Borgen starts again. Why should they be in our magazines at all, when they don’t even have to pay for them?

Meanwhile, popular, award-winning columnists are just making it worse. Soon every Rod, Jan or Petronella will be pulling on a onesie and cracking their knuckles. We won’t be able to move for #bloodycolumnists, writing wherever they like without a thought for the laws of journalism the rest of us have to abide by, like research and accountability. Why, if I had a pound for every time I’ve seen a columnist BWJ (bandwagon-jump), I’d be rich enough to start my own magazine.

No doubt this blogpost will attract the usual high-pitched accusations of inciting anti-columnist hatred. Columnists are well-known for being a humourless, self-important bunch; I’m one myself, so I should know. No, I just want us to hit columnists where it really hurts: in the pageviews. Although, if you can reach their ridiculous, showy, grinning little avatar with your bicycle pump, I’m looking the other way.

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