Yorkshire Whips Up Excitement For Le Tour

July 2, 2014

Yorkshire Whips Up Excitement For Le Tour

With cycling successes in both the Tour de France and the Olympics in recent years receiving massive coverage, it comes as no surprise that the UK should revel in the opportunity to celebrate the 2014 edition of the Tour de France, starting in Yorkshire. As someone who only really got into watching the Tour last year, I’m interested to see how brands in the Yorkshire area are using Le Tour to their advantage.

At midday on Saturday 5th July, hundreds of riders will set out from Leeds along their 3,664 kilometres route, cycled over three weeks. In this blog post, I will look at some of the ways businesses in the area are using this unique opportunity to promote and sell their services and products to new audiences. As stories about the Tour fill up column inches in the run up to the Grand Depart, brands are using a variety of means to spread the word and change the angle to gain coverage and interest. Here I take a look at some of the campaigns:

Bettys – heritage and pride

I’m a Bettys email list subscriber, so it didn’t take me long to spot their Tour campaign, which began back in April, long before I’d even thought about writing on this topic for the White.net blog.

I was enticed by their email on the 30th April, teasing me with a sneak peak image of  their upcoming ‘exclusive bicycle-inspired range’, which was followed up with another email a week later inviting me to admire the selection of limited edition tour-inspired foodstuffs on their website.

Email 30th April 2014 Email 8th May 2014


The email must have worked for me, as I clicked on it and tweeted about the range after their second email caught my eye in early May (image below) Granted, my tweet may have been more from a marketer’s point of view as “Ooooh look, Betty’s is doing something about the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire – isn’t that clever?!” as opposed to “Oh look how yummy and cute those special edition yellow jersey-wearing biscuits are!” – I can’t quite remember my tweeting mindset now, but it shows that it had an impact on me.

But what about web visitors who weren’t warm and hadn’t received promotions to their inbox – how were they drawn in?

The on-site tour page (carefully omitting any mention of the T word) brings together the elements of heritage, by promoting the story behind a limited edition 1919 Victory Bear, to celebrate the year Betty’s was founded. The Betty’s & Bicycles page presents the range of cycling-themed products and invites visitors to enter a competition, as well as contribute to the Bettys & Bicycles Pinterest boards. Bettys followed this up with vintage bicycle-themed content across Pinterest and Facebook.

The verdict:
I think Betty’s campaign is great in terms of bringing together the themes of having pride in Yorkshire and a great brand heritage. Betty’s haven’t strayed far from their core brand and values, but have embraced the event and have created a story around it. This campaign will have captured a few new customers, who may have seen Bettys products online and placed an order, or who have become aware of the brand, and are now more likely to visit one of Bettys tea rooms while visiting Yorkshire for the Grand Depart. In the main part, I think this campaign is aimed at Bettys’ already established fan-base, who would be interested in limited editions that relate to Bettys’ long history.

Social Sharing to date (via Social Crawlytics)

Links acquired: 3
Tweets: 114
Facebook: 39
Pinterest: 35 pins

Sheffield Hallam Univerisity – Science and Opportunity

Being a University of Sheffield grad, I’m reluctant to praise our adversary on the other side of the city, but Sheffield Hallam University has managed to catch my marketing eye with a compelling content hub dedicated to the Tour. This hub appears to serve various purposes and brings together promotional content, such as competitions and events, and insightful resource content that showcases the university’s expertise through analysis of the science and technology in play during the tour. It also highlights the cultural aspects of the city, such as film and the arts, whilst promoting Sheffield as an exciting place to study and visit, especially if you love cycling and hills.

The Tour content hub is effective in featuring current students and staff to give it a more personal touch. It also feels very modern and not afraid to shout about successes and the tour buzz. It features some well produced video content which captures the buzz nicely, such as this video, Cycling in the Peak District.

Perhaps this video should have a more prominent position on the Tour hub on the main Tour page or even the University homepage to draw visitors through to the hub (perhaps auto play would draw-in eyes).

The Verdict

SHU has done a great job as an official sponsor of the tour in creating buzz and excitement around the event and incorporating many different aspects of the university life into its celebration program. The University has done well in putting a personal touch on many of the resources in the hub, which creates a connection with visitors to their website, many of whom will be prospective students and parents of the university. It has also used the tour as a great platform to attract new students, showcasing the city and surrounds, as well as the cultural offerings attached to the tour coming to the city.

Social Sharing to date (via Social Crawlytics)

Links acquired: 274 from 18 domains
Tweets: 240
Facebook: 82
LinkedIn: 125

The University of Sheffield

By comparison, The University of Sheffield seems to have missed a trick. It’s Deconstructing The Tour website (launch seemingly only this week) is rather dry in comparison. It’s tagline ‘Academic Perspectives on the Tour de France at the University of Sheffield’ doesn’t exactly draw in the common man.

The website, on the rather forgettable domain http://www.deconstructingthetour.group.shef.ac.uk, does in fact have a nice fresh design (leaving the university brand guidelines far behind,) some interesting content, such as ‘The Tour of suffering’, a look at the hardships of the tour in decades past and present, however, the website is slow to load and text heavy.

The most interesting part of the site, Velogram, invites visitors to submit user-generated content in the form of tweets, instagrams and email to share tips, route suggestions and cycling experiences.

The Verdict

I’d be interested to see how much traffic and interaction the micro-site gets. It has some interesting content, but seems to promote itself as a bit of a side-project as opposed to something to shout about.

In terms of capturing interest, I think this hub should have been launched a bit earlier. When I visited the University of Sheffield website last week, there was nothing but a very dry video about the Krebs Cycle (pictured above as the homepage was last week) that would suggest the Tour was about to happen.

Social Sharing to date (via Social Crawlytics)

Links acquired: 28 links from 6 domains
Tweets: 129
Facebook: 29

Taylors of Harrogate

No, calling a coffee that has nothing to do with France or cycling Allez Allez isn’t exactly clever, but they have at least made an effort to capture a new audience and attempted to show some excitement for the Tour. It’s also been featured in Cycling-weekly.co.uk and iknow-yorkshire.co.uk. Perhaps Taylors should have taken a cue from its sister company, Bettys.

Black Sheep Brewery – biere,biere,biere

The Black Sheep Brewery in Masham, which the Tour will pass through on its first day, has gone for the ‘knees up’ approach to the Tour de France the way only a brewery could. It has set up Le Grand Party Masham, which has an awesome webpage with a hot air balloon that bobs up and down in the wind, but no information whatsoever on the party plans (literally nothing but the date.) It has also called a new beer a French name (of course!) and a percentage of proceeds of this beer will go to charity. I think Black Sheep could have made more of a fuss about the party, being along the route of the tour, and producing an ale that raises funds for cyclist Mike Hughes, a Yorkshire-man cycling for Marie Curie in the amateur race of  the Grand Depart.

So who wins in the race for the marketing yellow jersey?

It looks like the brands that have jumped on the peloton of excitement in Yorkshire have done the event justice. Some, like Sheffield Hallam University, have seen the wider value of being associated with the Tour de France and have invested in events and promotion as well as a great digital content hub. By promoting cycling with a growing number of young enthusiasts, the university is potentially targeting young sportsmen and women as prospective students, and promoting its sports science courses at the same time. Others have lacked vision in their attempts to market products relating to the tour by using an overly-promotional manner, or presenting interesting information in a dry manner.

There are plenty more brands in the area that may have used the Tour to good effect. Have you seen any effective campaigns, or some that have missed the mark, or are you sick of my Tour de France-based puns now?

By Alexandra Johnson Content Share:

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