For many casual spectators, the Tour De France Caravan is the best thing about watching the yearly lap of France. When Tour organisers ASO, commissioned a poll a few years ago, 47% of roadside fans came primarily for the Caravan.
What is it?
The caravan travels an hour or so ahead of the riders at the Tour De France. Made up of sponsors in their publicity vehicles, in this age of pop up internet ads and multiple TV channels, the caravan is an ‘old school’ yet very effective marketing route for sponsors to connect directly with the general public on a memorable, happy day out.
Why is it So Popular?
Free Stuff! It is estimated that he Tour caravan throws out 14 million individual items to roadside fans. The mix of stuff is pretty eclectic too, from sausage taster packs to one size fits all baseball caps, confectionery, pens, torches – all sorts of branded items. Aimed at building customer loyalty and reminding consumers of the day they got ‘that’ freebie from the Tour De France.
Sausage maker Cochonou (above) are said to throw nearly half a million sausages at fans over the three weeks of the race. While that seems like a lot of sausages, it’s worth seeing it from the waiting families perspective: Kids are getting tired and hungry, other families likely to be having a roadside picnic – if ever you wanted a cooked sausage product to be thrown at you, this would be that time…
Who works on the Caravan?
Happy, smiley people who can handle listening to the same euro techno song, or worse – advertisers short catchy jingle, for 5 hours per day, for three weeks whilst throwing random items at strangers. Whilst most people would enjoy this for an hour or so, the resilience of the Caravan workers has to be admired.
Best thing I got from the Caravan?
Before watching Bradley Wiggins win the final time trial of the 2012 TDF near Chartres, The TDF publicity caravan threw me something I have found very useful in the time since. A keyring torch from French Credit firm, Cofidis. Seven years on and the battery still works. So, if I ever need to take out a loan contract, in France, I will think of Cofidis first obviously…
Check out Merlin’s bikes of the Tour De France 2020 HERE