How Do We Engage the Broadest Audience? Great Visual Storytelling!

Above: screen shot from CNN article

I had the wonderful privilege of being included in an article on CNN's lifestyle blog yesterday called "Pedal perfect: Bikers shed spandex to inspire new riders." Author Emanuella Grinberg did a terrific job giving an overview of the tremendous appeal of fashion and style has as concept rides, and the allure of every day apparel zipping by on eye catching new bikes to engage new riders to bicycling. Included in the article is the growing popularity of "Tweed Rides" which also happen to be featured in the current "Style & Spy" section of the November issue of Town & Country Magazine (alas the image is not posted online!)

As I write this I had an "aha" moment. I've been trading emails for a few months with a woman here in Long Beach who specializes in the historic architecture of our city and giving local citizens a personal history of their own historic home. We've been playing with the idea of doing an "Arts & Crafts" tour of some of the beautiful craftsmen homes of Long Beach this spring. Wouldn't it be fun to tie it together with a Tweed Ride?

At the heart of style and fashion is the allure of aesthetics certainly, but there is also a celebration of life and an appreciation of the inspiration of our natural world. Last month Harper's Bazaar included model Arlenis Sosa dressed in leopard print riding a cream colored Linus Bike as the perfect accessory (click here to see what I'm talking about on the Linus press page). I am bummed I can't find the image online to share with you. Are there those passionate about bicycling who will scoff? Absolutely, there are those dedicated to the bike only being about speed and utility.

But here is what I know about sticking with utility and sport and survival of the fittest in the marketing of the bicycle - that approach will never get those of us who so very much need inexpensive transportation and a healthy practical solution for our daily exercise needs on bikes. And that's the bike's biggest growth audience. In that rich vein there are millions of possible riders, not those who will wear lyrca, but those of us who will never really contemplate lycra at all.

Whether we admit it freely or not we are all seduced in some way by fashion and style, even if it means we will only ever wear utilitarian khaki. Somewhere, somehow we got the idea that khaki spoke the right language for the story of our lives and how we wanted to represent ourselves to the public. Most of us however, like to change our outside image as we change our own inner landscape. This can mean a small step like a scarf in the latest shade for fall, or a big step like radically changing our whole wardrobe after weight loss or decided one day that we need a totally different hair color. Yes, of course I know as I write this I am speaking mostly about women - but that's bicycling's next big growth audience.

This past year a plethora of savvy marketing teams used the bicycle in their advertising pieces to create the image of happy, healthy living including the team at J.C. Penny's as they rebranded to become "JCP." Take a look here at one of their new videos that includes a happy couple walking a bike (thank you!) on a sidewalk. My wish? They all keep at it and step it up even more!