Thursday, June 16, 2011

Local mix: cycling, California almonds and advertising

As a cyclist who frequently eats almonds or walnuts while on a bike and off, when I came across an ad circa 1991 with Tour de France champion Greg LeMond promoting California almonds recently, I was pleasantly surprised.

The ad was originally done for the California Almond Board. It seems amazing and rare today to see an ad with a Tour de France champion that isn't promoting a bicycle brand, a component or clothing manufacturer, an endurance supplement or a foundation... but, regional agriculture!

While commercial energy bars aimed at athletes had been around since 1983, i.e.: Powerbar (or "PowerBrick" depending on the ambient temperature), what's interesting is that this lifestyle/health-oriented ad promoting almonds as a healthy snack, was published in the December 1991 issue of Bon Appétit magazine.

The headline of the ad reads "California Almonds, The Healthy Snack You Can Win With" with the additional tagline "Great nutrition in a nutshell".

With it's clever copywriting, illustrated logotype and almond bordering, typography and layout (using artificially condensed Plantin type for text), the ad is polished, but seems to mimmick other design work being done around the same time for places like The Nature Company.

One amusing design flaw in the ad is the yellow rectangle with the headline plastered in the lower middle. Visually this gives the impression LeMond is about to run into a barrier he may not have seen while he's smiling at the camera. So much for healthy snacks.

Today, many farmers are pretty much at the mercy of big companies and/or brokers that tend to set modest prices on what they're willing to pay California growers, since almonds now come from all over the world. So it's interesting to see an ad like this from 20 years ago specifically promoting California almonds.

It would be great to see more ads like this in support of local agri-business rather than big name cycling brands. Maybe someone could sponsor a team. If someone did, I'd vote for "Team Almond Crunch"!

© 2011 Velotouriste