A scheme that aims to provide potential London commuters with a free Cooper singlespeed bike has reached fifty per cent of its crowdfunding target.
Buzzbike will be rolling out their first bikes this Autumn, and they’ll go to city centre commuters who will pay a deposit of just £100 and receive a bike worth £700, plus a Hiplok bike lock, annual service, integrated lights, insurance and discounts from Brookes.
It all sounds pretty peachy. The only catch? The bikes will earn their keep by carrying advertising and their (foster) owners will need to ride a minimum of twelve days a month, logging rides on an app to prove that the bike and its advertisements have been adequately circulated.
Unlike the Boris Bike system, riders will keep the bike 24/7 and the lightweight premium machines will probably be more pleasant to ride, making them a tempting offer for those not able to splash out on a city slicker worthy machine.
The bikes will be handed out to those living and working in the catchment that the advertiser wants to target, and parking will need to be on street to promise maximum ad delivery – though since you’ll have insurance this shouldn’t be too much of a worry.
A Bluetooth beacon in the bike means that Buzzbike can “push content to mobile phones, turning Buzzbike into a fully integrated media platform". Buzzbike give a little more insight into what this might entail, saying: “an app for Buzzbike members creates targeted rewards for the rider and a deeper connection with the advertiser." If that means we can advertise a high street coffee chain and also get coupons for free coffee or similar, we might consider it.
To celebrate the launch, Buzzbike asked some local artists to design their own versions, which were displayed at the London Design Museum - to great effect...
The company was founded by Apple ad agency executive, Tom Hares, who has now been joined by chartered accountant and 'self confessed cycling nut' Andy Nunn. The pair are seeking investors via a Crowdfunding page which aims to collect £350,000 in return for 25 per cent equity in the company. As well as funds raised so far, they’ve also got the support of payment platform Braintree, who will decorate the first bikes, and Cooper themselves are investors.
Sceptics might be put off by the idea of trundling round with an unshakable ad attached to themselves, but few of us will say the same about a carrier bag or branded t-shirt, and Hares tell us that as well as spotting a gap in the marketing market, he also wants to see more people cycling.
“At Buzzbike we believe we have developed a new type of cycle scheme that will not just get people on a bike but also incentivise and reward them for using it often," Hares said.
He added: “Marketing has fundamentally changed over the last decade because of the way we all now consume media. This means brands need to find new and meaningful ways to engage us. As well as the bike itself, the technology we’ve developed allows brands to create surprising and fully integrated brand experiences, whilst providing Londoners with a completely free way to get around and enjoy the city on a beautiful bike."
Jane Ratcliffe, Chairman of the UK's top billing media agency, MediaCom, agrees that the new outlet for advertising could be a huge success, saying: “The setup and the team behind Buzzbike are not only visionary but importantly bring something to the market that is innovative and understands and meets the challenges of the modern world."
She added: “Buzzbike creators Tom Hares and Andrew Nunn have applied their relevant expertise to build an innovative and sustainable business model. Tom spent a decade launching game-changing technology with Apple as head of its advertising agency Media Arts lab whilst Steve Jobs was at the helm of the business. Andy is a corporate strategist and chartered accountant having spent the last 9 years in KPMG’s global strategy practice."