On the spectrum of no-nos in sports, and especially cycling, doping shoots off the chart, as evidenced by the sheer number of asterisks next to disgraced Tour de France champions. As the venerable cycling race meanders through the country, 37.5 launched “Dope With This,” a kit that references the phenomenon of illegal doping—but won’t break any laws or race rules.
“Given that doping has played a key role in sports over the last 50 years, particularly cycling, we figured the best way to get cyclists’ attention was to give them what they want: a legal way to dope,” said Andrew Lincoln, a creative leader and co-founder at Work In Progress. “We’re using the tried and true ‘first taste is free’ approach.”
The stunt, with the help of Work In Progress, the agency behind the world’s most remote pop-up shop last year, is inviting cyclists to try the 37.5 Technology fabric in the form of a cycling jersey, bibs and socks that will be offered each day of the race. When worn, the material reduces an athlete’s core temperature while active, similar to wearing a cooling vest circulating cold water and akin to the less legal practice of using drugs for optimal performance.
Science is on the brand’s side with a University of Colorado study showing that the fabric allows an athlete to perform 26 to 28 percent longer, adding that “the temperature build-up or length of output” were similar for both the 37.5 shirt and a larger cooling jacket.
The goal for the brand may seem simple but is actually ambitious, considering that the 88 cyclists who participate in the Tour de France are likely to have contracts in place that prevent sampling 37.5’s wares.
“If we can convince even one clean athlete to start doping with our fabric technology, then it’s all been worth it,” said Dr. Greg Haggquist, CTO and founder of Cocona Inc., the parent company of 37.5 Technology.
All told, the hope is that the siren song of legal doping is enough to convince cyclists to try to get the upper hand again and again.
“Hopefully this free sample will get them hooked on (37.5’s version of) doping,” quipped Jeff Bowman, CEO of Cocona. “And then they’ll keep crawling back for another fix.”
Agency: Work In Progress
Partner, Creative: Matt Talbot
Partner, Creative: Andrew Lincoln
Partner, Head of Production: Stafford Bosak
Partner, Head of Technology: Harold Jones
Partner, Account + Strategy: Evan Russak
Partner, Account + Strategy: Al Guerri
Partner, Legal + Business Affairs: Pete Sheinbaum
Art Director: Jimmy Rosen
Copywriter: Andrew Bridgers
Supervisor, Account + Strategy: Morgan Collins