In 1930, La Vache Qui Rit or the laughing cow cheese, became
one of the first advertisers!
Le Tour is this Saturday, but before the riders pass...
It's la caravan du Tour or the publicity caravan created in 1930 becoming an essential ingredient in the success of the Tour.
In 1930, a change from corporate to national teams was the decision of Henri Desgrange. He didn't like how the teams were run by cycling brands. The national teams were equipped with the same bicycles, supplied by the organisers. That cost money. To pay for this, the publicity caravan was started.The most popular sponsor, Menier Chocolates, advised Desgrange of the idea. An idea that worked so well it filled the coffers of the Tour.
39% of spectators go for the free goodies.
Menier handed out tons of chocolate preceding the race, as well as 500,000 policemen's hats printed with the company's name. It stuck. The people loved it. Today, it has became an integral part as it precedes the race with the colorful procession lasting more than 45 minutes handing out gifts for the fans.
Advertisers pay the Societe du Tour de France 150 thousand Euros to place three vehicles in the caravan. Some have more. There is an average of 250 vehicles per year, the leading vehicles belonging to the largest sponsors.
Interestingly, a survey conducted amongst people who come to watch the Tour reveals that 39% of spectators come to see the publicity caravan...
Henri Desgrange would've been so proud!