Rebecca Morley catches up with Adam Tranter, CEO of Fusion Media and founder of the #BikeIsBest campaign, which won the Cycle Advocacy Award at the 2020 BikeBiz Awards
It’s undeniable the impact COVID-19 has had on transport habits across the country, with many people questioning how a ‘new normal’ will look once we’ve emerged from restrictions. And given the uptick in cycling we’ve witnessed during 2020, many are optimistic that the ‘cycling revolution’ could be here to stay.
The 2020 BikeBiz Cycle Advocacy Award winner #BikeIsBest launched at the end of May last year, with the aim to inspire a new demographic to take up cycling. The movement, coordinated by Fusion Media, brought leading cycling brands and organisations together to present a message through their campaigning and marketing.
“#BikeIsBest launched very quickly because of the changing face of cycling – especially during the first lockdown,” says Adam Tranter, CEO and founder of Fusion Media. “Coming out of the campaign four or five months later, we were really pleased to have our hero film viewed over 3.1 million times on YouTube. Our digital campaign received over 18 million impressions and our out of home billboard advertising and some TV advertising also scored us over 32 million impacts.
“That broad reach and getting cycling to the mainstream is really important. Halfway through the campaign, we also started to work more on protecting the cycling revolution, and to try and be involved in the national and media narrative that was happening at that time.
“We wrote to the Prime Minister and set up a petition which over 20,000 people signed. One of the things that really stuck with me though, coming out of the campaign, was the research we did with YouGov and Dr Ian Walker which showed that for every one person against cycling infrastructure, there were six and a half in favour.
“That really cemented the fact that detractors from cycling schemes were a noisy minority.”
The first lockdown in 2020, and the summer continuing from that, saw traffic ‘get turned off’, Tranter continues. “We were at 1950s levels of traffic, which, in the absence of safe cycling infrastructure that you’d usually require, made people feel safe because there wasn’t very much interaction with major traffic whatsoever. It also showed that cycling could be huge if we provide a safe space to do it in.”
Tranter says it’s important that people are supported in trying to make changes in their local area – because that’s where the difference is made to get schemes through. “It’s down to us to keep the narrative positive for cycling in the media, and also to change and diversify the image of cycling to be a credible and genuine transport option, rather than seen purely as a recreation.”
Diversifying cycling’s image
Earlier this year, cycling brands, retailers and organisations collaborated to create the Cycling Marketing Board – a move that followed #BikeIsBest and the potential it showed in engaging new audiences.
“We came out of #BikeIsBest last year feeling like we were at the start of something, rather than the end of something,” explains Tranter. “So when that campaign came to its formal finish, we knew that we were onto something and we needed to do more. We’d engaged with key partners in cycling who were already doing great work and we saw that there was a gap to work to improve the public image through mainstream marketing tactics. The Cycling Marketing Board is set up to do that, both with creating positive stories for the media to talk about but also positive imagery and campaigns that people can see and relate to.
“There’s a lot of work to do – we’ll be running two major campaigns each year and a series of advocacy work throughout the year. But I think it’s really important that we do everything we can to lock in the positive change we’ve seen so far, and it’s by no means a done deal. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to realise the ‘golden age of cycling’ that the Prime Minister promised us and I strongly believe that the industry has a big part to play in that.”
The industry has known who its target audience is for quite a long time, Tranter continues. “COVID and our change in behaviour – and big problems like climate change and air pollution – are showing us that we need to talk to a different audience and get accustomed to that very quickly. I hope that the Cycling Marketing Board can go a way to supporting the industry with that.”
#BikeIsBest data showed that new cyclists were 59% male and 41% female, with women having been twice as likely to get on a bike during the pandemic. New cyclists were twice as likely to be from a BAME group. Furthermore, 29% of new cyclists expect to buy an e-bike in the future.
“It’s about reshaping how people perceive cycling,” adds Tranter. “We need to do our very best to get it seen as a serious and futureproof mode of transport in and among all the talk around electric vehicles, autonomous cars, flying taxes – all of these things seem like the solutions to our problems, but the bicycle is here and staring us in the face.”
Tranter believes that the board will help the industry change direction and meet the needs of the new consumer. “I hope that it will help the industry to grow, because we’ve had 2% of all journeys by bike for about the last 30 years and it’s never changed.
“If we were able to get that to 4% or 6%, we could pretty much double or triple the addressable market within cycling, and that will be good for the industry but it will also be really positive for our society, because everyone wins when active travel is prioritised and we need to communicate that. It’s been really well received, we have around 25 partners so far. We’re talking to new people every day and I encourage people who like the sound of what we’re trying to achieve and want to support the growth of the industry to get in touch, because all partners are welcome and everybody can make a difference.”
Why join the Cycling Marketing Board? We hear from five of its founder partners…
Kirsty Woodcock, head of marketing for Specialized UK
“Specialized is honoured to be part of the Cycling Marketing Board. For us it’s not just a title, it’s a movement. The huge increase in people discovering cycling throughout 2020 was incredible, and we have a responsibility to ensure that they have access to the right advice and kit to continue their new passion. Things can’t stop there though. With our partners, we are committed to ensuring we spread the word about the many benefits that cycling brings to you, your health, your neighbourhood and ultimately, our environment. Reaching new audiences, and raising awareness of the technology, experience and passion that flows down into all of our bikes and equipment is also a key aim as we seek to ensure all cycling experiences are fantastic.”
Christina Lindquist, head of marketing at Brompton
“The BikeIsBest campaign showed just how influential the cycling industry can be when we work together towards a common goal. Brompton is a founding member of the Cycling Marketing Board as we believe that together as a collective, we can achieve more. As an industry, we are facing a once in a lifetime opportunity to revolutionise how society views cycling and therefore transform the scale of our businesses. If we collaborate and present a united voice, we can drive positive change and inspire millions of new people to take to two wheels, bringing benefits to our businesses as well as an abundance of benefits to the world we live in – cycling has often been referred to as a silver bullet to solve many of the problems in modern society.”
James Symes, co-founder of The Bike Club
“We jumped at the chance to be involved in the Cycling Marketing Board. We’re looking forward to working with all the other great brands to attract a wider range of people, particularly families, to cycling and get them out on two-wheeled adventures more regularly.”
Michelle Jakeway, head of marketing at Raleigh
“Joining the newly formed Cycling Marketing Board was really a no-brainer for Raleigh. We believe strongly that cycling has the power to spread joy across all communities, and that joining forces with other leading brands is the best way to help more people experience life on two wheels.”
“There’s never been a better time to work with an organisation like the Cycling Marketing Board. For us here at Muc-Off, it’s important that we work together with the cycling industry to help get more people on their bikes and keep them pedalling, not only because of all the rad health and environmental benefits but also because it’s safer than using public transport during the pandemic. Because of all that, we think that diversifying activity is crucial, as everyone and anyone should have an opportunity to give it a go on two wheels – you never know what it’ll lead to!”