If you take a look at the back of any cycling jersey you'll see any mumber of logos, slogans and advertisements. For most riders these are an attempt to look professional, they'll even make an effort to tell you they're "sponsored" thanks to their access to cost +10% "bro deal" pricing and will harp on about the quality of thier "sponsors" products. For other's they're straight up attempts to look cool, i wonder how many people actually can speak with some degree of knowledge about the quick step range of flooring products which they are unconsciously a mobile billboard for? For a small percentage these logos represent an effort by the firms behind the logos to advertise a brand by association with a team or individual.
In the latter situation i'm pretty sure I represent a sub-optimal branding opportunity being not particulairly fast, somewhat divisive in my opinions, really quite unwilling to supress my opinions and quite liberal with the adult language. Oh and while we're at it i've got scruffy hair and I didn't get it cut for interbike. And sometimes i don't realise that there is peanutt butter in my beard.
Given my ability to spread my breakfast all over my facial hair,a long with my manifest other failings it is little short of astonishing that i have, somehow managed to assemble the coolest team of friends to help me ride bikes, have fun, do good and take insulin. This only really occured ot me at interbike this year. Sure, being inside an air conditioned room is pretty rubbish, and nobody likes subsisting on energy product for 3 days (but it is marginally preferable to paying $15 for a frankly cat 5 sandwich) but aside from that i genuinely enjoy interbike. Getting to hang out with the guys who help me each year is a privelege, i get to say thank you for the support they give and we get to make plans for global domination in 2012.
When i'm twittering about hanging out on a booth, or posting pictures of a cool new product it's not because anyone pays me to or because i think i genuinely have any real ability to influence sales of said product it's because i really think that said trinket or bicycle bit is worth sharing. I also believe that anyone who is willing to tolerate my manifest unprofessionalism is worth keeping around.
Over the last three days i have been pitching a project with type 2 diabetics, on which there will be more news very soon, to many of my sponsors. What really made me realize how cool these guys are is that not one of them refused to step up and give me a hand with what i'm proposing to do. This is a pretty good illustration that these guys are genuine, i'm not proposing ROI or exposure to cycling enthusiasts but they're sold on doing good and helping to make a difference. That's when sponsorship ceases to be the salient term, these guys who are willing to support my efforts to help people who need help aren't approaching this as sponsors but as friends, as people who've spent enough time with me by now to see the trials and tribulations of diabetes, to know that it isn't always easy and to understand how much it means to me. The fact that they've seen this, that diabetes has become personal and real to them, and that they want to help me make people's diabetes lives better makes the collection of people i'm working with pretty special. Many of them also provided me with beer, coffee and chocolate at appropriate times last week, which is enough on its own to win my eternal affection.
For your viewing pleasure here is a picture (from 1904photogrpahy.com) of my back, if i was not busy riding a biek down a hill trying to catch someone who had ridden up said hill marginally faster, you would be able to see some logos. Those logos would be from my friends at Tifosi optics, extreme endurance, Shimano USA, Blackburn, Sockguy,Michelin, Fizik, action wipes, kinetic koffee and FSA.So keep an eye on the old twitter for sponsor and project updates, and when i tag someone i'm not being a corporate whore. I'm supporting people who help people.