Lance Armstrong ad campaign clever but risky - marketing expert video

Lance Armstrong still commands celebrity status despite his fall from grace.
FIONA GOODALL/GETTY IMAGES

Lance Armstrong still commands celebrity status despite his fall from grace.

Beer-maker Lion's advertising campaign featuring disgraced cycling champion Lance Armstrong is risky, but clever, a marketing expert says.

Brandon Wilcox of Evolve Marketing said Armstrong would be a brand ambassador as someone who represents something about the Lion brand. 

The brewery has said its "the consequence" campaign will look at how much a person stands to lose when they pursue excellence at all costs. 

"They're clearly using someone who did pursue excellent at all costs, crossed the threshold and paid the consequence," Wilcox said.

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"And by implication they're saying that they pursue excellence but they're aware of the dangers of doing it at all costs."

Armstrong's pursuit of excellence ended in a public fall from grace. 

After admitting to doping during all seven of his Tour de France victories, Armstrong was banned from all organised sport for life, and stripped of his Tour de France titles and Olympic bronze medal.

Armstrong's spectacular fall from respected athlete to disgraced fraud has not made him an untouchable figure in the marketing world, just a controversial one, Wilcox said.

His New Zealand visit has generated "lots of comment, lots of exposure, and lots of PR" that is now associated with the Lion brand he said.

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Armstrong could still be considered the best in the world, Wilcox said. 

"Amongst all the cheaters he was the world's best cheater, and amongst all the cheating cyclists he was the world's best cheating cyclist."

Lion's decision to hire Armstrong was risky but calculated, he said. 

"The sort of people who are probably going to scream about how terrible it is and wring their hands are not the sort of people that are going to drink Steinlager."

"[Lion is] not necessarily endorsing what he's done and they're not necessarily commenting negatively on what he's done, all they're doing is shining a light on it for people to make of it what they will."

Controversial marketing strategies were not new to New Zealand businesses, he said.

"Hell Pizza springs to mind. So it's not limited to alcohol or beer, it's really down to the target consumer and whether it's something that's likely to resonate with them or not."

Hells has previously courted controversy with campaigns that have included condoms sent to random addresses, and a pen-shaped syringe with the words "Hell, creating addicts since 1996".

 - Stuff

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