Client: Raleigh USA Bicycles (Kent, WA), SRAM Corp. (Chicago)
PR Team: The Medialink Group (Kentfield, CA)
Campaign: Raleigh SC400, SRAM SmartBar Launch
Time Frame: October 2000 to June 2001
Raleigh is one of the biggest names in the so-called comfort bike
category: recreational bikes with compressed frames, high handlebars,
and wide seats. In March 2001, the company was slated to release its
sleek new model, the SC400.
The bike features a new handlebar that is light years ahead of the
old-fashioned twisted tube developed by SRAM. The SmartBar can be easily
adjusted for height and reach, and is designed to hold optional
accessories such as duel halogen headlights, racks, mirrors, and a
wireless computer to measure ride time, distance, and speed.
The companies decided to jointly promote the bike and bar, and brought
in the Media-link Group, an agency with experience in the biking
The goal for Raleigh was brand visibility; for SRAM, it was to get
riders to ask for the Smart-Bar to convince bike makers to use it on
their new models.
"We wanted to reinforce that we were a leader in the comfort category,
and that this bike was a whole new look, feel, and concept," says Teri
Mann, marketing and services manager for Raleigh.
Because the bike is aimed at older recreational users rather than bike
lovers and racers, enthusiast publications were difficult to pitch.
"I felt that if we were going to accomplish what they wanted, we had to
go beyond the obvious press categories," such as biking, health, and
popular science titles, says Medialink Group president Frank Cioffi. "My
feeling was that we had to shoot high and get in the big consumer
Cioffi focused his efforts on newsweeklies, men's and women's magazines,
and technology titles. The agency had a list of 150 journalists and
phoned each one, pitching a honed story depending on the media category.
For example, the publicists stressed the bike's almost feminine design
and sleek lines when pitching to women's magazines.
In April, Medialink account executive Noelle Smith and SRAM PR and media
coordinator Liz Buckingham did a brief New York media tour. However,
because many buildings wouldn't allow them to bring the bikes upstairs,
one person would wait outside while the other fetched the reporter,
editor, or producer.
"I was outside the Conde Nast building," Buckingham recalls. "Noelle had
gone in to get the editor. When they came down, there were about eight
people around me, asking questions, wanting to ride it, wanting to touch
it, to work all the gadgets. The editor came out and said, 'I guess
people really like this.'"
The campaign garnered some choice media hits, totaling about 50 million
Surprisingly, while the publicists thought journalists would be more
interested in writing about the bike, the opposite turned out to be
Raleigh didn't mind. "If they were getting press that was pulling us in,
that was great," says Mann. "And when we were getting press, it pulled
Cioffi said he was targeting Time and Newsweek, but didn't expect to get
both within weeks of each other. Newsweek dedicated the best part of its
April 16 "Cyberscope" page to the SmartBar (it also appeared in
Newsweek's Spanish edition). The SmartBar appeared on Time's April 30
"Personal Time/ Your Technology" page, and got into men's title Details
in March and women's magazine Elle in July.
Health magazine, One magazine, Fitness, Stanford University Press, On
magazine (a Time special publication), T3 ("Tomorrow's Technology
Today"), and Popular Science all devoted space to the SmartBar as
Broadcast and online hits included local TV coverage in New York and
Chicago, CNN, CBS News with Dan Dubno (and on Dubno's website,
gizmorama.com), and a front-page story on gadgetguru.com.
The Raleigh SC400 with the SRAM SmartBar will be included in Popular
Science's annual "Best of What's New" issue this fall.