The Lance Effect – Part 2


As a follow-up to my last post, I wanted to give my perspective on the legacy of Armstrong, and how it impacts the industry moving forward.

Sitting in on several marketing brainstorms linked to cycling-related brands and events, one theme that often arises is: “We need a Lance Armstrong.”

The impact he had on cycling’s popularity, specifically in growing the overall number of active cyclist in the U.S. is not just obvious, it’s measurable.

As I mentioned in Part I, the bike industry sales numbers support that during the peak of Armstrong’s popularity in the late 90s and early 2000s, there’s a clear boom in market activity. Not only were cycling fans flocking to the sport, casual observers and even those with no prior interest were suddenly visiting their local bike shop and spending, spending, spending. He’s the single most significant “thing” to ever happen to (U.S.) cycling.

Back to the conference room marketing meetings- whether everyone was thinking it or not, I always seem to be the one Debbie Downer who responds to “We need a Lance Armstrong” with “Ok, great. So who is that next up-and-comer we can give cancer to?”

Admittedly dark, but you can’t deny there’s some truth in there somewhere. As Lance’s legacy is as much (if not more depending on the audience) about the cancer, as it is the bicycle heroics.

Lance’s 6 Tour de France championships is to the cycling followers what his $100s of millions raised is to his legions of Livestrong followers. But the legacy ultimately relies on both.

So enter the doping scandal. The argument of its impact on Lance’s legacy can be debated at length with no real answer. Does Lance the cycling cheat make Lance the philanthropist any less significant? Can you set a value of money raised to fight cancer at which one can justify overlooking the “lie”? There’s only one answer: It depends. It’s ultimately up to each individual to determine that for him or herself.

But I’d like offer a different philosophical twist. What if the cancer was a lie? What if he wasn’t really a survivor? What if it was all made up to polish the legacy and build the foundation upon? How do you feel about Lance now? Again, admittedly dark, but interesting nonetheless.

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