Modernising the Giro d'Italia

Marco Gobbi Pansana is responsible for marketing and communication for cycling events at RCS Sport and key part of Michele Acquarone's team. 

He talks about how RCS Sport is trying to modernise the Giro d'Italia.

Is it possible to modernise something that is close to one hundred years old and make it more appealing to a younger audience?

It depends.

First of all the people who own the event have to really want to do it, and then it's also important to do things right.

Consider this marketing paradox: some brands don't have a history and do everything they can to invent one because having a story to tell is the only marketing technique that seems to work these days. Yet the brands that have a history risk being suffocated by the dust of history accumulated during a 100 years of life. It's the same for a pair of jeans, a banana, a car or even the Giro d'Italia.

Until a few years describing the Giro d'Italia as a brand would have made people turn red with angry or shame. After all, it's one of the monuments of Italian sport. Now the Giro is trying to blow off the dust of history. It's been difficult in Italy but has been successful in the rest of the world, with the race now considered as a premium international sporting event.

How did we do it?

Think Brand, think community, think video.

It's important to realise that the Giro d'Italia isn’t a three-week event, it's a brand that lives 365 days a year, that interacts with its fan base around the world via social media.

The Giro d'Italia is a brand that is radically changing the way it communicates. It's speaks in English, as well as in Italian, so that everyone can understand, with slogans such as 'Fight for pink' and 'the toughest race in the world's most beautiful place."

Images speak louder than words and are globally liked. They also show off the beauty of Italy. The Giro uses video because it is the best way to transmit the emotions and history of the race. It does it in a new way, for who is discovering the Giro for the first time, such as the children who remain amazed by what they see. The purists might not like it after being conditioned by the past but everyone else seems to like it –over 100,000 people have already seen the video.

But what about the history of the Giro d'Italia? Blowing off the dust doesn't mean you throw away everything. It means presenting the history that has made the Giro so special in a modern and appealing way. That means dipping into the archives and then carefully choosing the special moments that are worth recalling.

What we mean is perfectly shown in the video we showed at the recent presentation of the 2013 Giro d'Italia route. It's a mix of the past and the present.

Tell us what do you think.

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From Strade Bianche to Lombardia, via the Giro d'Italia, Michele Acquarone and the RCS Sport team will navigate the season with us, bringing Cyclingnews readers behind the scenes, as they discuss the challenges that face race organisers and share their fresh and innovative approaches to cycling.