"You know what you should do? You should sponsor one of those Tour de France teams. It's great exposure."
So said the unsolicited marketing genius. Sounds like a great idea. Lots of press; lots of prestige; lots of great stories about crazy racers. Oh, wait, I think I just woke up. For some, a dream; for some, a nightmare.
I was talking with a great friend of Seven Cycles today about a sponsorship opportunity in which we were mentioned. I have to keep his name out of this post because it is an ongoing conversation--although it will probably not be ongling for long.
This opportunity is about a ProTour team, meaning one of the top 18 teams that races in the 15 most challenging road bike races in the world. A team that is all but assured to be invited to race in the Tour de France, for example.
Every few years it seems we get an opportunity to talk with a team of this caliber. Of course, it's a real honor to be considered as a brand worthy of sponsoring a ProTour team.
Seventeen years ago a few of my Merlin co-workers and I had the fortune to work with one such Tour de France team--the Z Team with Greg LeMond. Somewhere I have some photographic proof that is both evidence and incrimination--a story for another time. We were fortunate to work with Greg and Z for a number or reasons but one important reason is that Greg LeMond was known for interest in technological edge rather than searching for a few more dollars in sponosrship money. Fortunate for us a the time. Unfortunately, pro racing was a bit different nowadays.
Not only is it an honor to be considered by Tour contenders, it's now also a significant investment, to say the least. Most people have no idea of the cost associated with sponsoring a ProTour team. The numbers we typically have heard are in the neighborhood of 120 frames and about €1 million of capital; the total value of these being well over $1.7 million USD. It may be surprising to hear that this is a lot of money for Seven. It is a bit bigger than our sponsorship budget--only about 100 times bigger... so, we're probably not going to be sponoring a ProTour team this year. Darn it; so close.
I look forward to the day when Seven has a budget wherein we could reasonably sponsor a Tour de France team. Not because we would do it; having that type of budget does not mean it's automatically the right decision. We could do an aweful lot with that kind of capital: accelerate the development of our ambitious next generation R&D projects, increase employee bonuses and compensation, provide some more sophisticated customer support ideas we have, go to the next level with some new retailer development concepts, give back more to our local community, and provide even more support to groups like Bikes Belong, to name a few investment ideas.
Regardless of the investment challenge, it's fun to think about what it takes to sponsor a top road team and what it might be light. After all, we already sponsor one of the world's best mountain bike teams.