Internet giveaways not just for Tour fans

By Steve Medcroft

When Rufus Staffordshire researched all the associated cycling giveaways related to the Tour de France, he came up with an impressive list of swag; more than a million U.S. dollars worth. Which is great for roadies but what about the knobby-tired world? Don't we deserve similar opportunities?

One Google search later and the answer is yes: Canadian clothing and equipment manufacturer Race Face has a quirky promotion running called Win the Crap on My Desk.

"It really is just crap in my office - and I use crap I a loving way," said Race Face marketing manager Marshall Rutman, the brainchild of the promotion. "It's all actually very cool stuff," he added. Stuff like the crank set Steve Peat used in the 2004 World Championships, for example.

"The idea for the giveaway came from looking at the stuff piling up in my office. Rather than give them to industry insiders, we realized that the average mountain biker would love to get their hands on it all."

Rutman had been with the company four years when he put together the first contest and has run giveaways for a little more than a year now. Each giveaway begins with a animated Flash cartoon launched on the Race Face Web site. "We thought it would be sort of funny to put up the animation. We have an in house graphics designer who breathers life into the episodes. I write a script, do the voice, hand him an MP3 and he takes it from there."

Web site visitors watch the video and are given instruction on how to enter that episode's contest. "We ask for something: an answer to a question or for someone to send us an email - it varies every episode." The winner is either picked from the entries or the prize is given to the first person who answers that episode's question correctly.

An example: "In the last Crap on My Desk," Rutman says, "we asked people to guess Steve Peat's favorite type of sandwich to win his World Cup DH-winning Diabolus cranks. We received hundreds of guesses with the most popular being the barley sandwich." But this wasn't a trick question and Andrew Dye from Sheffield, UK was the first person to correctly guess that Steve's favorite snack food was the bacon and egg sandwich.

New episodes appear irregularly. "When work gets a little slow, we find some time to come up with something new," Rutman says. "Whenever the crap builds up."

"The next giveaway is an amazing, one-off custom bike barbeque that one of the competitors in our Ultimate Free Ride competition made for us. He's a gas fitter in Tennessee and sent us this little barbeque that mounts into a head tube. And it works; it's ridiculous. It's too good to not do anything with."

The next episode should appear on the Race Face Web site "in a month or two," says Rutman.

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