Sport has often been seen as a convenient vehicle for a corporate entity or even entire nations to clean up their image. Most recently, Middle Eastern petrochemical dollars have poured into global sport – including professional cycling as the RANCID STENCH of ‘big oil’ looks to clean up its act.

‘Big Business stuff’

A prominent global think-tank of marketing executives have concluded that the image of professional bike racing is still so STAINED by the likes of the Festina Affair, Operación Puerto etc that the sport is in fact a useful advertising channel where brands are considered by consumers to be too ‘wholesome’ and which are looking for an edgier market position.

SOTP spoke to the marketing director of a well known FTSE100 company who are considering investing in pro cycling sponsorship for 2024. “Our companies values are strongly aligned to family, the environment and wellness. This has served us well but we’re losing market share to competitors who are perceived as being more exciting, more maverick, more ‘out there’. We took the decision to rip up our corporate ethos and align ourselves with something so sensational – you literally cannot believe anything you are watching. Professional cycling is the perfect route for us.”

Corporate entities looking to ‘dirty themselves up’ may well indeed look to pro cycling. A official spokesperson for a Middle Eastern state spoke to SOTP when contacted about their experience of investing in the peloton. “We were looking to plough money in to help deflect unfair accusations of having a poor human rights record and a unfairly authoritarian regime. However, when we re-evaluated this approach two years later, we weren’t just a nation with a range of discriminatory social values – cycling had done its job on us and we’d become pretty much a pariah state.”