Those Pro Blanco jerseys may not be so blanco after all.
A news story in Reuters today raised the possibility that Sky may buy advertising space on the Pro Blanco racing kits left blank by the exit of long-time sponsor Rabobank.
Sky is in negotiations with Rabobank to put Sky’s name on the Blanco kit in return for a financial deal to help the Dutch bank fund the team for the 2013 season.
“Nothing has been signed but there is a discussion,” said Nigel Winfall, a senior marketing manager at Sky. “The jersey was blank and we were looking for more exposure. Rabo wasn’t using the space and was more than willing it sell it at a reduced cost.”
The arrangement would set up a rather unique situation in professional cycling: a Sky sponsored team and a second rival squad sporting a Sky logo.
“There won’t be any confusion, simply a marginal gain in our awareness and recall scores. Sky is and remains Sky. We’re just capitalizing on a marketing opportunity,” said Winfall.
The proposed kit will present the team as Pro Sky for the entire 2013 season. “We looked at the numbers and it was a daring idea,” said Sky boss David Brailsford. “It’s actually quite clever having a second team that is literally Pro Sky. It’s like they’re fans of Wiggins and Froomy.”
The idea of advertising on another squad’s blank kit may not begin and end with the former Rabobank team. Sky management is also in negotiations with RadioShack as the electronics company announced this week that they would remove their name and logo from the RadioShack Nissan-Trek squad.
“It’s really like the global mortgage loan disaster,” said Winfall. “Rabo and RadioShack saw the value of their cycling assets decline dramatically. We’re just taking advantage of the meltdown to snap up some cut-rate space on racing kits. We’re essential tripling our visibility at a very nominal cost.”
So far both Rabobank and radioShack have refused comment on the Sky acquisitions and the UCI have yet to determine whether the deal goes against regulations governing the promotional efforts of WorldTour squads.
“We’re pretty busy with all the lawsuits from Kimmage and Katusha right now,” said UCI spokesperson Enrico Fibiani. “But we have a junior paralegal going through the laws. We might just have to let it slide.”
Winfall sees the situation as one positive benefit from the enormous damage done by the USADA Reasoned Decision on Lance Armstrong and doping within the US Postal team. “I have to say thank-you, Travis Tygart. Sure, there has been some pretty bad news. But we look at the bright side at Sky,” said Winfall. “We just snapped up advertising space on two other pro cycling squads at a fantastic price.”