Bike Boom Pushes Cannondale Mainstream With Billboard Campaign At Iconic Global Sites

Bike Boom Pushes Cannondale Mainstream With Billboard Campaign At Iconic Global Sites

Cannondale is to launch a media campaign featuring photographs of posters displayed on iconic billboard sites, including New York City’s Times Square.

The American bicycle brand was founded fifty years ago during the 1970s bike boom when bicycle dealers couldn’t get enough stock to satisfy mushrooming demand. Thanks to Covid lockdowns, the situation is similar today, with even the biggest bicycle brands struggling to get enough bikes to sate the world’s new and voracious appetite for cycling. The hunger started in Spring last year and hasn’t diminished, leading many bicycle companies to wonder what they’ll have left to sell come the summer.

“It’s kind of astonishing,” admits Cannondale’s Connecticut-based global vice president of marketing Dennis Kim.

“So many people are getting back on bikes around the world; it’s pretty amazing,” he smiles.

Cannondale’s decision on which bike to pick for a global media campaign came down to both availability and mainstream marketability. The brand is to push the newest version of its comfort e-bike, the Adventure Neo.

Critically, Cannondale has ample supplies of this new bike.

The Adventure Neo was highlighted on blink-and-you’ll-miss-it digital billboards in Times Square, on a busy thoroughfare in Berlin, and London’s Old Street roundabout. The billboards weren’t for on-the-ground consumption but for a photographer to capture the large-scale ads to use in a separate media campaign, which starts soon.

Besides costly ad space on digital billboards, Cannondale also pasted up a print poster for the new bike at an iconic location in downtown San Francisco.

“Bike dealers will have stock [of the Adventure Neo],” promises Nick Larsen, Cannondale’s vice president of global creative, who works from Bath, England.

“We made a significant commitment to this stock,” he says, adding that it would make no sense to “advertise something that people couldn’t go out and buy.”

Industry veteran Larsen says the boom is a “unique opportunity for the bike industry.”

It’s not just about shifting units today, it’s about planning for a future when more bikes will be sold, and not only to enthusiasts. Until the latest bike boom, the industry was over-reliant on older customers who own numerous bikes, known to industry wonks as the “quiver” consumer; valuable but a shrinking demographic.

There have long been fears that the industry wasn’t attracting enough new cyclists; Covid changed that.

“We are now taking a more strategic approach to reach a wider audience,” says Larsen, who joined the industry in 1995 using a newly-awarded degree in industrial design to freshen the product offerings at Pashley of Stratford upon Avon, maker of 1920s-vintage English bicycles. Larsen’s exuberance encouraged the company’s no-spring-chicken managing director Adrian Williams to land an accidental yet still-amazing-to-this-day backflip into a foam pit at a late-1990s trade show on one of the traditional brand’s new, youth-focused bicycles.

The pedal-assist Adventure Neo—backflips inadvisable—has a starting retail price of $2,200 and is equipped with a motor from bellwether German brand Bosch.

“It’s one of our most competitively priced Bosch-equipped bikes,” says Larsen.

“It’s intended for an audience that might be completely new to cycling, as well as new to e-bikes.”

With a newbie audience in mind, the brand’s global marketing team developed a print and digital ad campaign based on photographs of billboards in famous locations, including Times Square, one of the world’s most prestigious poster sites, now fully digital.

“The objective was not to reach people on the ground,” says Larsen, which was just as well because, thanks to Covid, the poster locations were largely empty at ground level.

“The idea,” continued Larsen, “was to put bicycles front and center in locations—and at a scale—where you wouldn’t normally see a bicycle advertised.”

The billboard ads didn’t feature detailed product specifications.

“If we’re going to be successful in the mobility space, we need to understand the audience and not talk about a bike’s spec, but what that bike can do for you,” says Dennis, who came into the industry from ice hockey marketing, including a stint with the Canadian Olympic Team.

“The bike industry usually advertises to existing cyclists, but that’s just marketing to ourselves, really,” says Kim.

“The pandemic has shown people what we’ve known all along, that cycling is liberating and yet practical; we want to emphasize that.”

The advertising campaign starts in print and digital media on March 16, with the creative first seen on massive billboards also appearing on storefronts of selected Cannondale stockists.

Published at Sun, 14 Mar 2021 19:00:31 +0000