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Disgraced former pro cyclist Lance Armstrong to appear in ‘cautionary tale’ advert for New Zealand beer

Lion Breweries takes risk on drugs cheat for upcoming marketing campaign

Lance Armstrong has arrived in New Zealand to film an advertisement – or rather, as the admen put it, a “cautionary tale” – for the makers of Steinlager beer. Public reaction has unsurprisingly been mixed and a local marketing expert has said that the use of such a divisive personality is a risk for the brand.

Armstrong will feature in an ad that goes by the name ‘The Consequence’ which, according to Newstalk ZB, will address how much someone risks losing when they adopt a win at all costs mentality.

Lion Breweries decided that Armstrong – banned from competitive cycling for life, stripped of his seven Tour de France wins and embroiled in a potentially ruinous lawsuit – was the perfect man for the job.

Before losing millions of dollars of income from sponsorship and ad deals after his lifetime ban in 2012, Armstrong advertised the US lager brand Michelob Ultra, which has an alcohol by volume content of 4.2 per cent.

Endorsing Steinlager, with its ABV of 5 per cent, could therefore be seen in some way as a move onto the harder stuff.

We doubt though that he’ll be progressing to crack open a bottle of Jack Daniel’s with Floyd Landis, who blamed binging on the Bourbon for his failed drugs test at the 2006 Tour de France.

His former team mate and fellow disqualified yellow jersey winner is also the instigator of the whistleblower lawsuit against him alleging misuse of federal funds, which could cost Armstrong up to $100 million.

Landis himself has set up a business in partnership with ex-pro David Zabriskie that sells cannabis-infused products in Colorado, where the drug has been legal for recreational use since 2014.

A Lion Breweries company spokeswoman said: "We are using Lance to tell a cautionary tale called 'The Consequence' which depicts how much you stand to lose when you pursue success at all costs. We wanted to highlight that actions have consequences and we couldn't think of anyone better to demonstrate that."

However, Canterbury University's Associate Professor of Marketing Ekant Veer told Newstalk ZB that Armstrong was “a really odd choice.”

He said Lion would have done a lot of thinking about what sort of story they wanted to tell and what celebrity they could use to tell that story.

"We have heard that Lance is here to support Steinlager in particular and we know that one of Lion’s brands is Steinlager Pure and to have a drugs cheat here to support a brand that has one of their brands being Pure is a little bit of an odd choice."

Veer went on to say that the old adage that ‘all publicity is good publicity’ was something of an old-school way of thinking. “When you’ve got a personality who’s that divisive, you’re going to be taking a risk with your marketing.”

Earlier today, several hundred people took Armstrong up on a Twitter invitation to join him for a waterfront ride in Auckland.

The Guardian reports that numbers were sufficient for trucks bringing goods in and out of the nearby Auckland Port to be held up by the riders.

Additional reporting by Alex Bowden.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Skylark | 7 years ago

Why disgraced?

beezus fufoon | 7 years ago

5% is disappointingly weak - how are the mighty fallen!

Boss Hogg | 7 years ago
1 like

Lance, the perfect scapegoat for all the hypocrits of the professional cycling scene.

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