Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Adventure Marketing Gets Axed

Many sponsored athletes have found out they are unemployed recently.
One of the side effects of the recent bicycle sales bubble-bust due to the pandemic issues on the supply chain is that marketing gets cut. Many bicycle related companies see this as the most expendable part of their business, for better or worse. 

An example of this came to light Monday when it was announced on social media by that Specialized had cut all of its sponsored " athletes under its "Seek and Enjoy Adventure Ambassador Program". In an article on's website, it was also revealed that Diamondback has done a similar thing in regards to cuts and in the comments section of a Facebook post about this story, it was revealed that Salsa Cycles has also quietly done the same. 

Of course, since Specialized was named as "the bad guy" here, many took to the comments section to excoriate them again. However; it should not be seen as "the big guys being bad again". This is going to be happening industry-wide, and we're just seeing the first-fruits of what some experts are saying will take at least the next three years to work through, if not longer. 

That this has happened on the adventure side of cycling is also not to be wondered at. Bikepacking has a loyal and passionate fan base, but the numbers of cyclists that are engaged in that market are a small amount. Compare to the big gravel events that bring in, literally, thousands of participants at many of the bigger events, and compared to the stratospheric growth in electrified bicycle categories, the adventure market is a tiny number. If you are going to be forced to make a cut in the budget, this is the kind of thing you lop off first. 

And to be sure- if things don't improve soon, other athletes and programs will be cut. That may mean that these big-money drawing 'gravelleurs' we're hearing about may be looking at a lot smaller amounts of support from their sponsors. I'm betting that'll definitely be the case. Interesting times and this will bear watching as 2023 unfolds. 

UPDATED: Take a look at this Tweet snippet that was posted to social media early this morning:

When financial pressures mount, and the Tweet referenced here is evidence that this is, indeed, what is happening to cycling businesses, marketing and promotions budgets get slashed. Again- cycling media and cycling social media is going off on Specialized. This is short-sighted thinking and is missing the point. Expect more layoffs and cuts upcoming in 2023.


MG said...

I can’t say I’m surprised this is happening, and the biggest cuts are likely happening within the companies that invested the most. Now more than ever, it’s essential for brand ambassadors to actively work on projects that bring more cyclists into the fray… and sell more bikes.

Guitar Ted said...

@MG - Yeah, it sucks now for those getting the bad news at this time of the year. I feel for anyone who got bad news now.

This is a cyclical thing too. COVID obviously exacerbated the issue, but the salad days for influencers and sponsored athletes was numbered. At some point, you get a correction in marketing. (See 2008-2010)

So, things will eventually turn around. Those who, as you say, work their way into becoming assets to brands, will come out ahead in time. Assuming, of course, there are brands out there left doing this sort of marketing!

teamdarb said...

I am not surprised this was not done sooner. The adventure scene is saturated with "influencers" to the point of normality. This is the number one reason I refuse to click on videos presented on influence based sites and cringe at "guest" posts. In the early set of my adventures I turned folks away. It was damn impossible to explain to them what "NO" meant. Then as the social media power grew, it became super easy to be excluded from these sponsor request by not having a social media presence (sp). I have had so much feedback from individuals over the years to the impact my adventures and character content.

One of my favorite thoughts to sum up media supported sponsorship: even a tree fallen with no one around to hear or be seen can change the river.

I hope this means less drones out in the middle of no where where I adventure most.