Saturday, 16 February 2008

On corporate self-promotion

I was at the Salon du Vélo this afternoon, but this is not a full report on the festivities. Rather this is a philosophical musing related to it.

Like many such events, it was sponsored by a variety of companies including La Presse newspaper. This is, in my opinion, a less than obvious product placement, but then again, I have seen stranger things in sponsorship. Besides, if La Presse wants to subsidize my hobby, I am not going to say no, even if I am unlikely to buy the Newspaper.

My favourite bit of corporate self-promotion was on the Tour de l'Île a few years ago. The route that year went through a quarry in East End Montreal. At the far end of the quarry, near some of the industrial installations of the cement company that owned it, were a couple of cement trucks and a earthmover parked carefully beside the route. They were all perfectly clean. The drums on the cement trucks had been stopped in a position that the company's name, Lafarge, was easily readable. To me, it was obvious that the company was doing some minor and very reasonable corporate promotion. I mean, it deserved to be allowed to show itself off to the public if it was prepared to let several thousand cyclists across its property. In addition, it likely answered the wishes of many small children (as well as some grown-up children) to inspect cement trucks and other machinery up close.

Of course, while Lafarge raised its corporate profile by doing so, I don't think that it had much of an impact on sales. While, I now know the name, I haven't ordered any cement from them. The market for cement amongst the general public is relatively low. ;-)

What I really liked about this bit of self-promotion was that it was actually fairly subtle and very non-intrusive. My parents, for instance, were completely oblivious to the fact that self-promotion was going on.

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