The VERSUS network has always been known for it's focus on extreme sports with an emphasis on aggressive, grueling, unsympathetic competition. Now, owned by NBC Universal, that tradition continues. During the network's reign as VERSUS I had the pleasure to work on a few notable campaigns covering some of it's most prominent properties. The campaigns covered everything from print to digital as well as brand development and content generation throughout their respective seasons.
The cache of Tour de France had been on the decline with the retirement of Lance Armstrong and rampant doping suspensions. Even with these challenges, Versus needed to increase viewership for the event.
True to the Versus brand, we aggressively addressed the issues head-on and demonstrated a tangible shift towards cleaning up the sport. The Tour de France could return to glory as a great test of human endurance.We branded the movement “Take back the tour.”
To launch the campaign, we developed an intrusive, provocative manifesto. "Screw the Dopers" was integrated across the Versus network and set the tone and the pace for the entire Tour de France promotional effort.
After the success of the "Take Back The Tour" campaign, Versus asked us to rebrand their coverage of the entire season the following year.
2009: Lance Armstrong returns to cycling and the Tour de France. During Lance’s three-year hiatus, the sport had lost some luster in the U.S., due to a lack of star power. We needed to capitalize on Lance’s return to rebrand their overall cycling coverage and bring viewers back to the Tour de France.
The “Epic Cycle” was born. The return of the 7-time king, Lance Armstrong, coupled with the ascendance of all of his former foes to positions of power made for epic storylines. And epic racing. The campaign built drama around the characters and the highly charged stories in cycling. We branded the Tour de France “The Most Epic Race. Ever.”
Lance Armstrong's return from retirement set the stage for a dramatic season.
So we portrayed riders as the cast of the drama on the Versus site and in a series of spots.
We also produced a graphic novel following the biggest story lines throughout the season.
Episodes were released on the site and packaged as on-demand broadcast content.
The cycling season culminated with the ultimate endurance race, The Tour de France. For this I carried the visual
theme through creating an icon that delivered on the epicness of the race itself.
The results were nothing short of epic as well with Versus racing to a big ratings increase. Versus saw a 97.6% rise in viewership for the tour’s 21 stages. More than 30 million viewers tuned into a portion of Versus’ wall-to-wall coverage of the Tour. Our “Adventures from the Epic Cycle” were the most viewed content on versus.com with 16 million videos viewed.