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My good mate Cam was over in Germany at Eurobike last week and has a whole bunch of tech goodies coming up in the next few days. One thing he was able to get to us quickly was an interview with Reto Aeschbacher, the head of marketing of Scott International. Cam used to hold a similar position with BMC for AsiaPac, so he knows the bike industry very well. Here’s what Reto had to say about Scott’s partnership with GreenEDGE
[CW] How did the relationship with GreenEDGE start?
[Reto Aeschbacher, Scott International] Almost nine months ago we got in contact with Shayne Bannan, who had the project of building up the first Australian ProTour team. We were quite happy to see the way he wanted to build the team, his values matched the direction we wanted to go. We were ready to start something fresh, and also something with a consistent and long-term view which offered a substantial partnership. We were also quite happy to see the whole infrastructure of the team and the network of Shayne Bannan is quite amazing. So we knew he was the right man to work with. We already had a very good feeling of how we could work together. He could see that Scott was the right partner in terms of equipment. His goal is to develop one of the top teams and he acknowledged we had a lot of knowledge with building carbon bikes, especially in the last years being a leading brand in aerodynamics. He was very happy to see our common interests.
Scott has worked with Protour teams in the past. How do you expect GreenEDGE will be different?
We had an amazing experience with HTC where we had two fantastic years – not only on a results level, but also they were very demanding on a product level. This really helped our forward progress with aerodynamics, making sure we could add extra to our bikes to make a win possible. With GreenEDGE it was first of all unique to have an Australian team. It’s a global team from an English-speaking country so it’s much better for us on a marketing level. However, the most important thing was the long-term prospects. It was not like “hey, let’s sponsor someone for two years”. Shayne clearly wanted to build up something long-term. As one example, the whole infrastructure they have in Italy is a clear commitment to their future as a ProTour cycling team.
What is the ultimate return expected from Scott’s partnership with GreenEDGE?
Maybe it’s a bit early to make a final statement, but it was clear from the first meeting there was a very high level of trust. This is the most important thing as a base of any team. You know, we saw the values and attitude of the team really matched our own going forwards. We are really looking for more than riders that get a paycheque. We proved in the past that sponsorship can be really well communicated through our marketing. We want to build stories, and really go beyond the result.
Strategically, there must be a sales agenda in the background?
Actually, we like to sell all over the world a lot of bikes! There are certain countries that are very open for road cycling. Of course, Australia has a strong base of riders but this partnership will help us in all our English-speaking countries. On another level, we need the product confirmation – i.e. to show the bike works – but also it pushes us to go one step further in regards to how we need to construct the bike. It’s definitely on a different level supplying a ProTour team.
So the Australian distributor for Scott will have big expectations to sell?
For a distributor to have a team based in its country is like a Xmas gift! Of course, to have such a large group of Australian riders will definitely help and we see potential to grow in the AUS market. Our distributor will definitely use the team in their marketing.
Will someone from Scott be travelling to Australia to examine how the riders are using the equipment, etc?
Of course, to sign a contract with the team is one thing, to develop the material is another. We have a technical department following the team 100%, really to make sure we deliver the best product. But as well, we also have a marketing person allocated to the team that is in very close contact. And of course this means travelling to races, product launches, team introductions, it goes way beyond just sending a cheque or sending the products.
I passed Shayne Bannan and Neil Stevens yesterday, Did they meet with you yesterday? What was discussed?
Exactly. You know, we have a very close relationship. Eurobike is the leading bicycle show, so of course Shayne wants to be here, he wants to see how the brand is looking. There is more or less a daily exchange though, you know, what’s going on with the team, what’s going on with the product, what are the next steps. But already, he is well prepared for the year ahead.
Is there any one rider in the team who has taken a particular interest in the product, materials, etc?
Yeah, you know, it’s quite interesting. It’s not just that Shayne came to us and said “I want to work with Scott”. He was working more than 10 years to discover which is the right brand to work with. With regards to material development, he is definitely consulting with his riders, so it’s more than just a one man show. Considering rider’s feedback is very important. It is in our best interest to listen and learn as much as we can.
Do the riders already have their new season equipment?
It depends. Some riders are still under contract with existing teams. It is not at all our intention to make them break any agreements or contracts so there are already riders testing and preparing with the bikes but its not 100% yet.
Anything new coming out soon?
You can consider a ProTour team the same as a F1 team. With the Foil, we already used it at the TdF when it was a year away from being in the market. We use the ProTour and certain team riders to test new things and discuss with them what they want next.
So, what innovations can we expect going forward?
We have first of all our mission statement “innovation, technology, design” – this really describes perfectly what Scott does in general. Weight and stiffness are always key elements. In aerodynamics, which we proved with the Foil, we are a step ahead from our competitors. Comfort is a focus. Ultimately, the ProTour has many different races, and you have to make sure the bikes perform well everywhere.