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Welcome to brilf.net, Descente Marketing Department

At least, I think it's you. Here's how my site stats for the last 20 visitors look:

Brilfstats

(And no, they're not all the same person - different computers, browsers, screen resolutions, though all coming from the same IP address root.)

Congratulations, Descente. You've discovered what every interactive marketer has long known in his heart to be true: Put the word "PENIS" on an advertisement and people will talk about you.

Now that you've cracked the code, the smart marketer asks the obvious question - how can we scale it?

I don't mean, "What else can we sell by saying 'PENIS'?" Rather, how can you get more cyclists to talk about protecting their penises? I gave some suggestions in my other post and I do think extending the campaign into a bigger microsite is not just important, but necessary. Right now it's a good idea, truncated.

But I'd think also about extending the idea into the product line. Think of the viral implications (I know, I shouldn't be talking about penises 'virally' - but would you rather I said 'word-of-mouth'?) if there is something visible on your shorts that references the campaign and concept? Like a 'Dr Frank Speak Protected Penis' seal of approval subtly yet visibly placed on the crotch of the shorts themselves? You know everyone looks at cyclists' crotches - finally you're giving people license to, and encouraging cyclists to flaunt it a bit.

Advertising is effective when it elicits a response, but it's sustainable when the messaging is tied directly into the value proposition of the product. Right now, in any given peloton, you're just another pair of shorts. But with a little integration between marketing and product development, you can become the Pro Shorts that Protect Penises, Peloton-wide.

Can the Tour of California be both Boring and Successful?

Maybe a better question is, "Can the Tour of California be successful without being boring?"

This year's Amgen Tour of California had all the suspense, excitement, and drama of - well, of 8 days in a row of races. But with a wire-to-wire victory and any meaningful order in the race determined almost wholly over less than 20 miles of prologue and time trial, the event was decidedly unlike the grand tours it aspires to be.

The pre-race favorites were guys like Fabian Cancellara, Michael Rogers and David Zabriskie, simply because they're time trial specialists. These guys are all amazing racers. I'm a huge Zabriskie fan and know that he's one of the world's fastest men on a bike (when he can stay on it). But he's not an all-arounder. Granted, Levi Leipheimer is an all-arounder. But he won because of his time trialing. And his team, who were challenged, and rose to the occasion.

But they were only challenged by the other teams. In the Grand Tours, racers are challenged by the terrain and the result is a continuing narrative about the race's outcome. The major distinction between the Tour of California's climbs and those in the grand tours is not their length or pitch or category or quantity - but their location. The Tour of California had no mountaintop finishes, meaning that even stages with the area's most epic climbs were won by sprinters. J.J. Haedo conquers Trinity Grade and wins Stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California!

The answer to every "why" question you can conjure up about American cycling is the same: "Because of the economics." No cities in California with big tourism budgets are on top of mountains. And stages have to begin and end in sizable towns to draw in enough spectators to satisfy event sponsors, and enable the race to receive the continued funding it needs to grow.

The only reason The Tour of California wasn't brutally insipid to American cycling fans (or at least the American mainstream media) this year is because an American won. Again. What happens next year if Paolo Bettini comes as a racer instead of a tourist, or Sergei Gonchar shows up at all?

A boring race with world class riders and deep-pocketed sponsors is a huge win for a race promoter, and a coup for any mayor whose city is a host. But another ingredient is essential if the race wants to achieve Grand Tour status, and not plateau as a training stage race, like the Dauphine Libere (no offense, Levi). If it's not a true battle for the racers, challenging legitimate GC contenders to come fit and race earnestly, the Tour of California - like its stages - will peak early and end predictably.

Descente cares about your penis (sorry, I mean your Penis)

I'm probably not the only one keeping one eye on my email and another on the Live Reports from the Tour of California, via Cyclingnews.com. So today - just now, in fact - I saw a couple of ads on the site framing the live updates that deserve a little recognition. Here's the page with the ads (click to enlarge - the ads are on top and the left hand side):

Descentepenis

Clicking through the ads takes you to a site called "Dr. Frank Speak" and featuring a medical-looking fellow, presumably named Dr. Frank Speak. He tells us, in plain English (though I can't help imagine that it's with a German accent), "Chronic microtraumitization wreaks havoc on the penis, scrotum, labia and anus. While bike fit and cycling dynamics play an important role in the overall comfort of your cycling experience, your bike shorts provide the first line of defense against a numb penis or sore labia." Then the site links to men's shorts and women's shorts.

Love the ad, love the concept, love that it got through to my attention not by blinking wildly, promising me a huge discount or by following the tried and true Wrench Science formula - but by, well, speaking frankly. I only wish there were more of a microsite with some actual science behind the claims (I'm serious - to me, arcane and specific knowledge is power) instead of just a jump page. Dr. Frank Speak should have his own articles on the site, podcasts, some educational videos (remember "Your Testicles and You" from Johnny Dangerously?), interviews with pro riders about their penis protection secrets - the possibilities are endless.

He should NOT, however, have a user-submitted photo gallery.