It really is amazing how far sports marketing has come in the last few years. The leaders in the industry continue to innovate in order to make an impact with professionals, and amateurs. This is a case study on how one of the biggest brands in sports decided to make an impact on the weekend warrior. Using an unknown, slightly overweight, amateur cyclist you may know as Heavy Eddy.
It came to my attention that the megagiantsportsbrand was struggling within the highly specialized category of cycling. It is one of the fastest growing industries sometimes even called ” the new golf” yet they just couldn’t crack the categorical nut. Sure, for years their comeback athlete of the century had put them in the spotlight after 7 amazing Tour de France wins. But we all know how that story ended. And since then the industry sports giant has been almost absent from the 7.4 billion dollar cycling industry. This was the year to innovate and find a new way to connect with the target.
Recently, I received an unexpected call. It was a marketing director from that megagiantsportsbrand . He asked If I was the same Heavy Eddy that wrote the blog. I said I was one in the same. I was then enlightened to a new vision for the brand, that was looking for a new spokesperson. A new face that could really impact the everyday consumer. They wanted someone who could ignite the category, inspire a belief because a fraudulent Texan was no longer credible. They were looking for someone who epitomized passion, spirit and drive that embodied the amateur under-achieving weekend warrior cyclist of today. They were no longer looking for the ultimate performer. The new paradox was built upon credibility. It was not about the lean, ultra fit, successful cyclist of the past. No-one buys into that anymore! It was time for the brand to be rejuvenated behind a shorter, slightly softer, slower, yet approachable and somewhat self-deprecating athlete. The magic of middle age was about to be a reality. And I was now asked to be that face. It was up to me to prove that I embodied the brand’s DNA.
“Ed, we know your cross racing results have been about as spectacular as Kevin James’ 10 K split time. We know you climb like a heroin addicted sloth and we know that those extra helpings of your Mama Maria’s homemade pasta aren’t gravity friendly, but they ARE turbo fuel for your downhill descent. And we need to capture the vein busting efforts of a fat man at the precipice of achievement or epic failure. Are you willing to do that for us?”
I’M YOUR MAN! Yep, that’s me -under achieving? Check. Too fat to climb? Check! And constantly looking for that ever-eluding moment of glory! That’s me! The embodiment of all that is middle-aged and under achieving. What do I need to do?
The plan was set in place. I need to go on a Thursday night training ride with a number of guys all dedicated to humiliating me. I need to hang on for dear life while one guy jams me into the hurt locker, straps the grappling hook to his chain stay and drags me along on his fat bike. I also need to attempt to suck the wheel of a guy who happens to be a state time trial champion. As he barely enters a zone 3 effort while I struggle and my eyes roll back into my skull like a stoned surfer mid-shark attack. Finally, I am reminded of my inefficiency by a guy that climbs hills like a Alpine Ibex while I cough up fluids I didn’t know my body even contained. Next, we would repeatedly climb the grass-covered, garbage hill, known as Mt. Trashmore until I struggle and gasp. Wishing I was home, wrapped in my powder blue snuggie,watching Dancing with the Stars.
Once I was at the top, the best was yet to come. I would bomb down the same hill, half blind as the night’s darkness is only partially illuminated by my dying bike light. All while my fillings vibrate loose as I hang on for dear life and test the uselessness of my cantilever brakes. Cursing the inventor and damning him to hell in 2 languages, hoping that he can understand at least one of them.
After a couple repeats I felt like I hadn’t quite gotten close enough to meeting my maker. I knew that if I was going to be able to get to the next level of mediocrity I had to push it. Time to let up on the cantis just enough to let the blood back into my hands and face, and release that saddle gripping, butt-clenching tightness just enough to let the feeling back into my legs.
Then it happened. I achieved sports nerve-ana, The moment where your nerves have been tested and you have crossed into the point of Epic Failure! I am airborne, and about to slam the part of my body that is least prepared into the side of a garbage hill.
This impact will define who I am. A few hours later the x-ray confirmed it. I am not sure how the megagiantsportsbrand did it but Heavy Eddy now encompassed the soul of the brand. Looking closely, right there in black and white, clearly on my right scapula was a fracture that echoed the identical shape of the logo. It was credible proof of why, one extremely painful crash later, I was now the new face of the brand. I “Just Did It”!
This mark will now be seen by all and everyone will be inspired by Heavy Eddy’s endeavors. Is this the mark that no longer represents the sculpted athlete but rather the MAMILcyclist (middle aged man in lycra). How did the logo get there? And more importantly does this blog post really make any sense whatsoever? Who cares, I’m on pain meds and right now it makes total sense to me!
I know my cyclocross season is over. I now sit here icing my shoulder, and nursing my wounds. A bit depressed because even though I was probably never going to win a CX race, I will miss training and competing in a sport I have really learned to love during my absolute favorite time of the year.
This injury has affected my livelihood, and my life. Somehow, I still consider myself lucky. Although it will be 6 weeks of very limited mobility I shouldn’t need surgery. I find it ironic that this logo, usually reserved for successful champions marks me at an emotionally low point. But it proves that we are not defined by the logos that adorn our clothing, It is the ones that mark us on the inside that matter. Once I recover I will go back to doing what I love to do and that is what will define me.