Specialized Ends Contracts with Global Ambassadors

by 0

Specialized has in recent years put a lot of resources into its global ambassador programme, sharing a varied range of content depicting a broad range of riders in a variety of riding styles. In a surprise move however, we understand that a number of ambassadors have had their contracts terminated.

Ambassadors do more than posing

At this stage we are not clear whether the entire global ambassador program is affected, or whether there may be regional variations. However, sources suggest that the cutting of the budget to the program was a surprise to Specialized staff as well as the ambassadors themselves, with staff having been making preparations to re-sign the athletes.

The official word from Specialized UK is ‘Our social ambassador programme is continuing to change with the needs of the rider, but it definitely isn’t going away.’

The timing of the termination will be particularly difficult for riders who make a living from riding and content creation, as most other brands will already have agreed their budgets and sponsorships for the year.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sarah Swallow (@sarahjswallow)

One UK rider our readers were keen to know the status of is Manon Carpenter. As far as Manon is aware she’s still working with Specialized and the soil searching program, pending renewal of her agreement which runs until the end of 2022. So, hopefully we’ll be able to see her great trail advocacy work continuing!

More as we hear it. Forum thread here.

  • This topic has 51 replies, 33 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by Jason.
Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 52 total)
  • Specialized Ambassadors Dropped
  • danposs86
    Full Member

    Seeing on a few sites about Specialized cancelling or not renewing ambassador contracts (or just ghosting them).

    Can think of a few that get support from Specialized, Hannah Barnes first springs to mind. They aren’t just posting photos on their latest Spec bike either, a lot seem to do good in the cycling community.

    Looks like SPecialized have locked their Instagram comments down, can imagine a bit of a backlash for this. It is 2022, have big companies not realised being open and communicating is key to maintain good public opinion?

    Not like Specialized hasn’t had oppertunities to learn this in the past.

    plus-one
    Full Member

    Can’t be cheap keeping lights/heating on in all the concept stores !!

    DrP
    Full Member

    i’m not sure if this is excluding racers etc??
    Prob more ‘social media type peeps’ like Derek teel (dialled health) etc…

    I tried reading more, but couldn’t find answers.

    DrP

    tomhoward
    Full Member

    Can’t be cheap keeping lights/heating on in all the concept stores !!

    They don’t pay for it. They’re franchises.

    danposs86
    Full Member

    Think this looks more like brand ambassadors than their sponsored racers.

    Read on one site that some are paid (cash, not just bikes).

    steve_b77
    Free Member

    It’s the global ambassador program, not sponsored professional athletes

    a11y
    Full Member

    It’s the global ambassador program, not sponsored professional athletes

    <small class=”bbp-reply-post-date”></small>Is that the likes of Manon Carpenter?

    footflaps
    Full Member

    Hannah Barnes first springs to mind

    They’ve only just given her a £12k Diverge STR!

    danposs86
    Full Member

    Might not be Specialized UK ambassadors, on the comments from the above link:

    At least one adventurer has just been signed by specialized. A lady who goes by the handle girloutdoors.becky on Instagram just announced she is an ambassador for them next year having just done a bikepacking trip on GBdivide(ish). She used to be a racer, but quit biking entirely for several years, focusing on bushcraft, backpacking and packrafting. She seemed to buy a bike earlier this year to try bikepacking.

    hooli
    Full Member

    I am often surprised who brands want to work with and how they quantify any gains from these deals.

    Obviously they can see somebody has x thousand Instagram followers but I have always been curious about how that translates into sales. Even more so with the “marmite” characters who some people love to hate, I guess it is still publicity but would it put people off a brand?

    steve_b77
    Free Member

    I am often surprised who brands want to work with and how they quantify any gains from these deals.

    Track their social media, lets say someone has 150,000 insta followers with an average post engagement of 10%, that 15,000 people engaging with you product one or two people buy a bike off the back of that 10% engagement, bingo you’ve just generated lest day £15k in sales for one successful post. Pay said person £15k a year and give them a bike they give back at the end of that model year run, you then sell the bike as an ex-demo, sorted. It’s essentially free advertising.

    danposs86
    Full Member

    Also they get to use their photos (usually high quality) on their social feeds, from a huge variety of locations. Every week.

    No location scouting, photographer hire, lighting, rider pay, photo editing, etc to pay for. All for the cost of a bike or two (and in some cases a bit of money).

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    Ambassadors = Blogger Blaggers

    finbar
    Free Member

    Ambassadors = Blogger Blaggers

    Yeah I’ll not be crying a river for this one, sucks if ambassadors got ghosted but hey ho.

    footflaps
    Full Member

    and in some cases a bit of money

    I assumed that for most of them, their only source of income was sponsorship deals / ambassadorships etc. Hannah Barnes does the odd shift as a nurse IIRC. Juliet Elliot seems to just ride bikes..

    chrisdw
    Free Member

    They don’t pay for it. They’re franchises.

    Not the case in all the Rutland stores they just bought though 🙄

    footflaps
    Full Member

    Not the case in all the Rutland stores they just bought though 🙄

    At least one store is still running branded as Rutland in Cambridge….

    ampthill
    Full Member

    Yeah I’ll not be crying a river for this one, sucks if ambassadors got ghosted but hey ho.

    Manon Carpenter is doing a phd which will have an income stream with it. She has done a huge amount of trails access work. Whether her Spec’ deal has ended or she needed it them to support her access work I don’t know. But it’s not all being paid to be on holiday

    But it’s not all being paid to be on holiday

    Not all, but mostly.

    bikesandboots
    Full Member

    Even more so with the “marmite” characters who some people love to hate, I guess it is still publicity but would it put people off a brand?

    I bought an Ergon saddle despite a certain arse they sponsor. I did email them to highlight some of said person’s activities, and that their products appeared in said videos. No reply.

    Trouble with two-faced marketing is sometimes the wrong face gets through to the wrong customer, but in this case the product was good so that won.

    footflaps
    Full Member

    But it’s not all being paid to be on holiday

    I say hats off to them if they can get someone to pay then to do what they love!

    stevie750
    Full Member

    Nice merge

    a11y
    Full Member

    Nice merge

    Oooh, does the forum now allow that to happen? Good stuff.

    BigJohn
    Full Member

    Any other Shuttleworth fans humming Y reg, Y reg, why?

    mattvarndell
    Full Member

    Perhaps they are embarrassed about the price of their bikes. I always thought it was supposed to be better value the larger the production run.
    Give me local manufacturer’s all day!!!!!

    footflaps
    Full Member

    Perhaps they are embarrassed about the price of their bikes.

    Sure they used to be a good value brand 15 years ago, but now there is definitely a large brand premium attached to all their bikes.

    vmgscot
    Full Member

    Not just Specialized, Ibis have also started dropping some of their ‘ambassadors’.

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    My impression is that most of these brand ambassadors have been involved in the promotion of the adventure biking / gravel / bikepacking scene*. Maybe there’s not much more to be done on that front at the moment? All the early adopters were already bought in, the influencers caused a surge in interest, now it’s backed off to a steady state. I’d post that Gartner Curve again, but many folk will know what I mean.

    * Could just be that’s my interest and so where I’ve seen their output.

    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    But it’s not all being paid to be on holiday

    Depends how you look at it? It’s probably equally fair and unfair to say that any full time athlete is enjoying a full time holiday.

    How many 9-5 forumites would rather have gone for a ride this morning then hit the gym in the afternoon rather than sit in an office before trying to cram in a ride/gym session between work, dinner and bed this evening?

    My impression is that most of these brand ambassadors have been involved in the promotion of the adventure biking / gravel / bikepacking scene

    Probably, also seems to be the collective term for non-competitive sponsorship. So either the more marketable mid-pack riders or non-competitive disciplines like gravel/touring/bikepcking.

    e.g. I’ve met a few people who are “brand ambassadors” for various gym/fitness brands, which seems to involve little more than amassing a lot of followers on social media and being a bodybuilder/strongman/powerlifter/Olympic lifter which aren’t really “professional” sports in the sense that they all needed day jobs as well, even if that job was something related like a coach/PT/nutritionist. They basically just got their hobby paid for and some made a few quid out of it.

    steezysix
    Free Member

    They’ve pretty much dropped all their “adventure” bikes from the lineup, haven’t they? The steel framed AWOL and Sequoia have been gone for a while and the Fatboy fatbike has been phased out. Seems like they’re just not interested in that part of the bike market anymore, so they don’t see any point in supporting those ambassadors. Its a shame, as I would have though those people have a higher ROI than professional racers who must cost a fortune!

    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    They’ve pretty much dropped all their “adventure” bikes from the lineup, haven’t they? The steel framed AWOL and Sequoia have been gone for a while and the Fatboy fatbike has been phased out. Seems like they’re just not interested in that part of the bike market anymore

    That could be production capacity related, I presume it takes as much time to build a Seqoia as it does a Allez Sprint (or an Enduro bike, or whatever), on the production line, but the Allez must have the bigger margins?

    Fatbikes though definitely died in terms of sales. They’re still changing hands for decent money 2nd hand, but I doubt there’s any renewed demand for new ones.

    ayjaydoubleyou
    Full Member

    That could be production capacity related, I presume it takes as much time to build a Seqoia as it does a Allez Sprint (or an Enduro bike, or whatever), on the production line, but the Allez must have the bigger margins?

    A complex rabbit hole to dive down.
    The frames will be on a few years lead time I would imagine. May even be ordered B.C.
    The price to the manufacturer will probably be similar between Sequoia/Allez, and between Enduro/Stumpy
    But the margin is going to hugely depend on a) the components on it, b) what the market will pay for it.

    chakaping
    Full Member

    Considering “influencer” has to be the most-derided job title in modern life, there’s been a surprisingly sympathetic reaction to this.

    My impression is that most of these brand ambassadors have been involved in the promotion of the adventure biking / gravel / bikepacking scene*. Maybe there’s not much more to be done on that front at the moment?

    Probably this, coupled with them being the “low-hanging fruit” (in terms of intangible benefit and easy to end contracts) now that budgets have to be cut because the bike bubble has burst and brands are looking at potentially shrinking sales over the coming years.

    It’s possible there are MTB “ambassadors” being cut loose too, but that we’ve just heard from these drop-bar lot first.

    +1 for hoping Manon is still supported in her advocacy-focused content

    chrismac
    Full Member

    I cant say Im surprised. I have never really understood how ‘influencers’ or brand ambassadors ever demonstrated value for money from the marketing spend. Im sure they dont cost a lot in the whole scheme of things so probably dont need to generate much of an ROI but even so.

    kayak23
    Full Member

    As long as it doesn’t affect the Ambassador’s reception being noted in society for their host’s exquisite taste, I’m OK with it.

    shooterman
    Full Member

    The influencer thing is very much a double edged sword. Not a lot of demo bikes near me so I rely heavily on Youtube etc for reviews etc.

    I had pretty much made my mind up my next bike would be an Ibis. Then Ibis just gave a free bike to the partner of a prominent Youtuber. Didn’t really create any content or promote the brand. Put me off the brand given how much they were asking customers to pay for their bikes.

    tonyf1
    Free Member

    As long as it doesn’t affect the Ambassador’s reception being noted in society for their host’s exquisite taste,

    Excelente

    footflaps
    Full Member

    I cant say Im surprised. I have never really understood how ‘influencers’ or brand ambassadors ever demonstrated value for money from the marketing spend. Im sure they dont cost a lot in the whole scheme of things so probably dont need to generate much of an ROI but even so.

    Yep, I’m mainly FB, which is a dying platform and Hannah Barnes etc gets bugger all likes / comments yet Spesh and BMW etc happily fund her lifestyle. I just ‘assume’ she has amazing reach on IG or something else….

    chakaping
    Full Member

    Hannah Barnes etc gets bugger all likes / comments yet Spesh and BMW etc happily fund her lifestyle. I just ‘assume’ she has amazing reach on IG or something else….

    She has 77k followers on IG, which is higher than many racers – and actually higher than Martha Gill or Martin Maes (two Ms I randomly checked).

    Without knowing her actual engagement %, it looks like she gets strong engagement from her followers in terms of genuine, positive comments on her posts.

    I also note she has 3x the followers of one of the riders Spesh just dropped, but in doing so I note that rider’s only done 1 or 2 posts a month. I’d be stopping the **** paychecks for her as well in that case.

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 52 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Author Profile Picture
Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

More posts from Hannah