Trek get driven for Team Leopard-Trek

In the last decade, Trek have been pretty good at backing Tour de France winners. The likelihood is that the three million euro they’ve put on the name Andy/Frank Schleck and Team Leopard-Trek will ensure that they continue to do so in 2011.

They’ve come up with the now-obligatory narrative video campaign to show how they are doing their bit to help the team win, branded as “Driven” with the strapline “Fast: Faster: Fastest”:

It’s a bit bland isn’t it? Fabian Cancellara talking about being “happy to be part of the Trek family” and Trekkies going on about how they want to make their riders faster isn’t really a return to “True Racing” promised by the team. Nor is that “Driven” identity, which is so devoid of subtlety it’s only missing a megaphone to make its point.

What fans ultimately want to hear, nay, need to hear from teams is: “These are great bikes, we WILL smash it up on them”, not “and then we gained five watts from the performance benefits we discovered in spokey-dokeys”. That was perhaps Team Sky‘s biggest failing for me: I heard more about marginal gains that “we love racing bikes and racing to win” and it’s something they’ve definitely addressed in setting out their stall for 2011.

The fanbuzz that Cervelo got from their Beyond The Peloton campaign videos following their Test Team has seemingly led to everyone feeling that their marketing/PR campaign needs to give you some insight into what makes the team successful. Or maybe, Cervelo were just lucky the brief translated into something interesting.

Beyond The Peloton – Season 2: two – Paris-Roubaix from Cervelo TestTeam on Vimeo.

I posted the other day about how HTC and Specialized has got their team branding right and one thing their videos have in common is the impression of an integrity and transparency, of an honesty about what cycling is and how it is reflected in the people involved. That’s borne out by the unremarked use of obscenity.

Trek have always come across to me as the most desperately corporate of the big American cycling brands. Perhaps that’s what happens when you become as successful as they are: you play safe and to your strengths. You don’t certainly don’t scare the congregation with foul language.

OK, this is a Trek video rather than a Team Leopard one, but I would have expected there to be something a bit more coherent when it comes to the brand identity being built around the team.

I’m prepared to give them a chance to develop something but I worry that, as great as they are on the bike, their marquee names aren’t big enough personalities to carry the Leopard brand in the same way as Armstrong or Cavendish. The Schlecks and Cancellara are all a bit gawky for my tastes. I’d expect that “Big” Jens Voigt will find himself in front of the camera very quickly once he’s come to terms with the birth of his sixth child. Yes, sixth.

Boy have I missed the sound of his rat-a-tat-tat German accent and his excited babbling about everything, no matter how trivial, these few months of the off-season.

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