Into Lycra? There's An App For That.

Published on .

Hello again. This is my fourth post on the CATScan blog. Don't know if you remember my previous ones, but the first was about being relevant and earning the chance to try out new and cool things more often (Practicing Self-Control in the Candy Store); my last one was about "context"—creating (or not creating) content that is relevant to a certain situation (The Trouble With Screens).

This time, I'd like to talk about something that brings relevance, content and context together in a beautiful way (and includes tight-fitting Lycra).

I'm an avid bike enthusiast. I try to make time to ride my bike as often as possible and bike racing is pretty much the only sport that I follow on a regular basis.

As you may (or may not) know, Le Tour de France started two weeks ago. It's the oldest bike race in the world. In twenty-one stages, riders cross France until they reach the final stage that ends on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

Being new to the U.S., I didn't know which channel (if any) covered "Le Tour" here. So of course I googled it and found that the race was being covered by the Versus sports network. And for $23.95, I could get it on my computer.


Then I couldn't find my credit card, so I never got around to signing up for it.

A few days later I was riding with a friend who works at another agency. He told me that Versus had an App for the iPhone where you could get live coverage.

Sounded too good to be true.

But it is.

And not only do you get a live feed of the race (without the commercial breaks on TV), you also get two of the best commentators in the cycling world, live updates and aggregated Twitter feeds, maps, general classifications and push notifications if anything important happens in the race. And after a specific Stage is over, you can see a rerun of it and post race interviews. There are even previews of the next Stage's route.

The guys who developed this App knew what they were doing. Clearly, they know the world of cycling. And since I don't have the time to sit on a sofa for five hours a day and watch the race, this App gives me a chance to be immersed in the race and updated wherever I am. I can even sneak a live view, every now and then. To me, this has been a whole new way to experience this epic bike race.

What's especially cool about this App is that it's one of those projects where all the stars are perfectly aligned: you have an event that is well-suited to TV; the event itself is possible to enjoy in chunks; it's already being broadcast in a TV format; you have a marketing department (and a client) that realized there was an opportunity to extend the content into other platforms, like mobile; and you have a technical producer that knew how to design and build the perfect App for this specific need.

In real life, this is almost as advanced as the conditions needed for live to appear (maybe I'm exaggerating a bit here just to make a point). There are always a number of things that need to be in place for any project to be successful. This app is a great illustration of what can happen when everything comes together: relevance, content and context.

If I ever develop an appetite for bull riding, is the first place I'll look.

Mathias Appelblad is ECD and Director of Innovation at BBDO New York.

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