Mountain Bike Firm Gives Magalog a BTB Spin

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Some might think that the magalog concept, which usually has a strong editorial personality, wouldn't work for a business-to-business mailer. However, when the industry is mountain biking, about which even dealers tend to get very passionate, they could be wrong.


At least, that's what Gary Fisher mountain bikes and Planet Propaganda, which designed the company's last two annual catalogs, would have us think.


Planet Propaganda, Madison, WI, first shifted the Fisher catalog from a standard all-product format to one that used more general photography and articles last year. The new direction was so well received by dealers and retailers that it was expanded upon in this year's edition, which mailed to 200,000 independent bike dealers last month.


"Most of the large bike companies focus on the metal and build their bikes in Asia," Planet Propaganda president Gary Sax said. Gary Fisher bikes, on the other hand, are named after a well-known mountain biking personality. "He's kind of a rock star. People ask for his autograph."


To capitalize on this, FISH 2.0, as the catalog is titled, features a picture of Fisher on the cover and includes 28 pages of essays, articles, photography and illustrations meant to convey the culture and aspirations of the mountain biking lifestyle. The rest of the 88-page book is dedicated to the Gary Fisher bike line.


An article about biking in North Dakota, for example, includes a full-page image of a buffalo inside a restaurant and an essay by Fisher that asks, "Does a bike have a soul?"


Sax estimates that the design of the catalog takes six months from concept through completion. This year, the book has a more standard 8-by-10 1/2-inch format compared with last year's tabloid size. Also, this year's edition uses photography from more than 10 people involved in the bike industry. Last year, only seven photographers were featured.


Fisher and Planet Propaganda hope to continue expanding on the editorial component by attracting more high-quality articles and photographs from people within the industry.


The book's magalog feel "lends it an objective third-party editorial feel," Sax said, and people in the industry want to be a part of it. Dealers say they want the concept to continue even if it hasn't resulted in a sales increase. "They say, 'Fisher is an attitude brand, and this is in keeping with that.' "


Fisher and Planet Propaganda hope to bring this all online in January at Fisher bikes' Web site, fisherbikes.com, where even more articles, photos and behind-the-scenes information that can't fit in the catalog will be available.


The Web site also is expected to generate consumer interest. Fisher is helping spur interest through sponsorships and print ads in bike magazines. It also ran a few television ads during the Tour de France.


There are no plans to mail the catalog to consumers, but the company might do so in the future, Sax said.


Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM News.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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