According to Purple Harry, WD-40 has demanded Team Raleigh GAC drop the UK brand from its roster of sponsors due to a 'conflict of interest'.
Team Raleigh GAC has around 25 sponsors of varying levels, with both Purple Harry and WD-40 new this season. Purple Harry's sponsorship centred around its Rider Care line, rather than its bike care products.
Purple Harry broke the news yesterday on its Facebook feed.
BikeBiz spoke with Purple Harry's Richard Hargreaves and Dean Perry, who said: "It might seem a little petty that we have highlighted our disappointment over this last week’s developments, however, we’ve had a few set backs at the hands of companies like WD-40 over the past few years since we started and this time we decided it was right to speak out."
Here's our interview with Hargreaves and Perry:
How long has Purple Harry been supporting Team Raleigh GAC?
This was a new deal only just announced for this season – and we were very excited about it. WD-40 are also new this season though to be fair.
And it was the rider care range specifically that was being linked with the team, not your bike care range?
Yes – just our Ultimate Rider Care range. We knew that WD-40 were going to be bike care sponsor but we still wanted to be part of our most local professional cycling team and the Purple Harry rider care option was still a great fit as it’s a new range for us and is a totally different area to bike maintenance.
How surprised were you that WD40 took exception to Purple Harry being involved with the team?
If they had a rider care range as well we might understand it better. But to simply demand that we were removed after it had all been announced just seemed ridiculous. It’s disappointment more than anything as we feel close to the Raleigh heritage as a Derby based brand – and of course there was the value to us in sponsorship and being recognised as a supplier to Team Raleigh GAC.
Playing devil's advocate, do you think a neutral observer would be surprised that a bike maintenance/care brand asked for Purple Harry's removal?
Possibly – but we weren’t going to have our logo on the riders’ jerseys or team car. Basically we would use the association ourselves for the Ultimate Rider Care range and the agreement was mainly that the riders and soigneurs would recommend it as part of their training and racing regime via social media. All very innocuous really, and any conflict of interest has only been made apparent from WD-40’s actions in insisting we’re excluded. To be fair we are still a very young brand and still aren’t widely known. This association might have simply given people awareness that we did rider care products only.
WD-40 is a big global brand and Purple Harry is a small UK brand, so are you surprised they've risked inviting negative publicity, potentially looking like a 'goliath to your David'?
Often with big businesses the middle management team aren’t aware of the roots and where the company has come from. We’ve seen this in extremes throughout our journey – some industry gurus have helped us massively along the way – for no other reason than they know how hard it is to set up and survive as a start up and the help you need. And some like in this instance seem to just want to stop you dead in your tracks, although we suspect that’s because it’s the staff who are simply driven by sales targets with no understanding of just how damaging to companies these bullying tactics can be.
We can’t really believe that WD-40 felt threatened by us – but maybe we’re more on competitors’ radars than we think! We weren’t threatened at all by WD-40’s involvement as we saw the opportunity for our other range to be offered instead. We have a generic logo as standard and two specific ranges – Ultimate Rider Care and Bike Cleaning Perfection.
Have you got any plans to back a different team now?
Immediately – no. We already sponsor Velosure Starley Primal with our bike care range as well as The Mule Bar Girls. And we’re an Official Supplier to The Tour of Britain. This wasn’t so much about sponsoring another team per se – it was particularly exciting for us because it was Team Raleigh GAC – with so much British heritage and being so close to where we’re based - that we saw as a great fit.
It will have quite an impact on us too as a small business – we’ve invested in more product to cover the anticipated team use and projected sales increase as a result. Fortunately we have been able to cancel some of the marketing initiatives we had planned in time. It might seem a little petty that we have highlighted our disappointment over this last week’s developments, however, we’ve had a few set backs at the hands of companies like WD-40 over the past few years since we started and this time we decided it was right to speak out.
Finally we'd still like to wish Team Raleigh GAC the best of luck for the rest of the season as they are still in our hearts as a local team!