The British bread brand founded in 1886 has signed Olympic cycling champion Victoria Pendleton as a brand ambassador. She spent six hours recreating the iconic 1973 ‘Boy on a bike’ TV advert.
Hovis will deploy Pendleton in a series of campaigns, including encouraging cycling; healthy-eating and education initiatives.
Pendleton said: “I hope my work for Hovis will inspire a new generation of ‘girls and boys on bikes’ who enjoy cycling as much as I did when I was younger and maybe even inspire some champions of the future.”
Pendleton is interviewed about cycling, the parity of men and women’s cycling events in the London Olympics and other topics, in this video, whiich also shows her filming the new Hovis ad.
Wheatgerm flour was developed in 1886. A national competition to name the bread made from this nutritious flout was held in 1890. Herbert Grime won with his suggestion of ‘Hovis’ as a contraction of ‘Hominis Vis’, Latin for ‘strength of man’.
Hovis was an early supporter of cycling. In 1899 Hovis launched a series of eight cycle road maps covering England and Wales. Each map listed hostelries that served Hovis bread. These guest houses displayed a sign with a cycle wheel and the letter H for Hovis, clearly modelled on the winged wheel sign of the Cyclists’ Touring Club.
The maps were published by G Philip and Son and the co-sponsor was the Cycling Components Mfring Co, Birmingham. This series continued for 25+ years.
In 1973, director Ridley Scott created one of the best-loved TV adverts of all time: the ‘Boy on a bike’ advert. This was set against Dvorak’s ‘New World’ symphony, rearranged for brass, and featured a delivery boy freewheeling down a cobbled northern hill.
In fact, the ad was shot on Gold Hill of Shaftesbury, Dorset.
The ‘boy’ is now a 51-year old fireman. Carl Barlow was 13 when he appeared in the advert.
Barlow said: “It was pure fate that I got the part as the Hovis boy. I was down to the last three, and it turned out that one of the two boys couldn’t ride a bike, and the other wouldn’t cut his hair into the pudding bowl style – it was the Seventies after all. As the only boy who could ride a bike and would cut his hair, I got the part.”
Hovis has more up-to-date bike promotion credentials. Before Sky took over sponsorship, Hovis ponied up £1.5m to sponsor the London Freewheel ride. In the 1990s the bread brand supported the National Byway with £500,000.