Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Quad Cities, Iowa
Bikes: Schwinn Traveler Fixie, Fuji Berkley commuter, Specialized Sirrus road rig, ++ many more
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A little more information to think about...
I work in commercial production (televison, actually writing/filming/editing commercials), and i've been riding for many years. The first question i would answer is "what are you trying to sell?"
A company like Trek, for example, would probably run ads similar to a car companies, like Nissan. They could make ads featuring individual models, which would work if they hit their audience. I would say the average American would not understand the different between a "Trek Model A" and a "Trek Model B," nor would they care, since they look the same and function the same.
Trek could focus on different types of bikes, for example, mountain bikes or comfort bikes. They could sell that "category" of bikes easier than a whole spot about the new Trek Fuel 9.
If the commercial spots ran in a cycling or even sports specific environment, say, during the Tour de France, you could easily advertise the latest Trek or Cervelo. If you ran it on a local affilate, the cost versus return would be pretty low. A bike company would have a hard time effectively using television to sell a specific item, however, they could sell "cycling" as a hobby, sport, activity, transportation, etc. For example, Trek could "sell" the idea of commuting to work by bicycle, it's health benefits, etc., while depicting all Trek merchandise. Cervelo could "sell" the idea of bike racing, and racing with Cervelo brand bikes.
Local bike stores would be a little different. First, they would have to get approval from the manufacturer to use/advertise the products. If, say Specialized, did not approve the ad, they would not allow it to be run. Or, they might have stipulations on it's use. That's why cell phone stores have to list they are a "brand-x" retailer.
A bike store could, however, "sell" itself. They can advertise who they are, what they do, how to help, upcoming sales/promotions, etc. The main drawback, however, is cost. They can shop around at different stations to find a good deal, but bike shops have such a low profit margin, making television a less than ideal choice for advertising. How do most people learn about bike shops? Phone books, location, and word of mouth.
Plus, there's a big difference between making a commercial, and buying the airtime to run the commercial. Lets say it costs $1000 to make a commercial, to write, film and edit a 30-second spot. You still have to buy the time on a station to air it, which could run, say, $10,000 for some nice spots (primetime tv, in your target audience, with several repetitions). More cost effective would be to put that same spot on the internet, on a cycling website where you're guranteed your target audience, at a fraction of the cost.
Chris L had it mostly right, the profits might not cover the costs of the advertising. There's several companies/businesses i've worked with who went out of business despite the tv spots, or had to pull their commercials off the air because they were costing too much.