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Versus promotes Tour de France via mobile

The Versus television network is promoting its coverage of the 2008 Tour de France cycling race with a marketing campaign that includes text message alerts.

Versus viewers can sign up on the Web site at for up-to-the-minute Tour de France updates via SMS. Versus tapped mobile agency Concept Farm to handle the text alerts.

"We're offering a one-stop site that incorporates popular aspects of social utilities to accurately represent and evangelize the passion of fans, cyclists, competitors and sponsors for one of the greatest sporting events in the world," said Griffin Stenger, partner and creative director of the Concept Farm, New York.

"The 100-plus-year-old Tour de France is longer than the Olympics and harder than any sporting event on earth and we have set out to create a platform for the viewers to express their dedication to the sport as an art form," he said.

Fans can show their enthusiasm for the race by using their camera phones to photograph themselves biking, watching a race or otherwise showing how they would "Take Back the Tour."

The photos can be uploaded to Flickr right from their handset. Concept Farm takes the photos and includes them in its own Flickr group. The photos are then displayed on its campaign-specific site.

Versus' multimedia campaign also includes television ads, which began June 9. The company is using other mediums such as viral films featuring current riders and print ads.

Versus' coverage of the Tour de France will air July 5-27 and will last 14 hours per day.

This promotion comes in the wake of the Tour de France's performance-enhancing, substance-abuse scandals, preventing some of the top teams and riders from competing in this year's race. These advertising efforts are an attempt to overcome all of the bad press.

"This campaign is targeting all fans of professional cycling and anyone who has ever been frustrated by the scandals and desire unadulterated competition in its purest form," Mr. Stenger said. "This is for people who want to have a voice and see their opinions reflected in both virtual and visual mediums."

Mobile users can also upload videos of themselves to YouTube, giving their opinions about the tour and the current state of cycling. They can do so at or Concept Farm's Facebook application.

The site features video clips, commercial spots, print advertising and information about Versus' coverage of the tour.

"People are reachable to a larger degree than any other time in history," Mr. Stenger said. "In a society which does not accept waiting until later, the only way to reach people in real time is to go mobile.

"We are a mobile, active society that does not like to wait until we get home or to our computer to catch up on the day's news or to voice our passion," he said. "The campaign champions riders who compete cleanly, while giving a platform and a voice to the passionate fan base who support them."