And, Nissan believes, that time is now.
Nissan North America is stepping up a previous involvement in the professional cycling circuit to become co-title sponsor of an international team of 30 professional riders. Now the automaker’s name will be on every jersey and bike used by the RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK. Nissan vehicles will support all team events and will be regularly seen actively supporting the cyclists.
“The thing that has really excited us this year is the coming together of a number of really top-class athletes on our team who will increase the exposure for RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK,” says Carolin.
Among them is American Chris Horner who won the Tour of California event last year, the marquee U.S. cycling event. Horner is again a favorite in 2012. Two million spectators turned out for last year’s week-long race from the San Francisco Bay area to Los Angeles.
“It’s a dramatic example of the increasing popularity of the sport in America, and of why Nissan is involved,” says Carolin. “The coverage that television is giving to the sport … we’re seeing viewing figures on TV increasing.”
Carolin also said it’s clear that cycling is becoming more popular as a way to keep fit, and as an alternative means of transportation in an age of energy awareness. It’s also a good fit for a corporation that has consistently demonstrated its interest in environmental issues, along with health and fitness. Nissan has previously sponsored these themes in other sporting events such as the New York and Boston Marathons.
Carolin believes RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK will build on last year’s success in California and in other U.S. races, including an increasingly important new race in Colorado, as well internationally.
“Of course, the blue ribbon event globally is the Tour ‘de France, and you know we have some of the best riders,” said Carolin. “You know it is truly a super team.”
Along with Horner, top team riders include the Schleck brothers (Andy and Frank) of Luxemburg, and Swiss cyclist Fabian Cancellara, team captain in the Spring Classics.
“His nickname is Spartacus”, said Carolin, speaking more as a race fan than as a marketing executive. “I mean this guy is awesome.”
In addition to Nissan’s sponsorship and international marketing opportunities, local Nissan dealerships will participate in events in their region. Meanwhile, the team itself is quite literally gearing up, training on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca. RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK is already off to a fast start, with an impressive performance at the season opening Tour Down Under in Australia.
Across a race season that stretches into next fall, team riders will sometimes be simultaneously competing in events on different continents. Nissan will be supporting them – and be very visible -- at every stage along the way.