A Marketing Stunt That Became the Tour de France

Anna McKenzie
2 min readJul 13, 2022

How a struggling newspaper changed pro cycling forever.


I’m a huge Tour de France fan.

Tune in if you get a chance, because it’s going on right now. And I’ll tell you this… blood, sweat, and tears is the name of the game. Le Tour takes no prisoners.

But it may shock you (it shocked me) that the biggest, baddest cycling road race in the world began as a marketing stunt.

That’s right… in 1903, a struggling French newspaper, losing out to its competition, was seeking a way to increase sales.

What do you need to sell more papers?

Something exciting to write about.

So they created a six-stage cycling race across France that they could cover in their paper.

The average length of each stage was about 250 miles, meaning that riders were on their bikes day and night, and they were responsible for their own repairs.

That insane first event not only garnered attention and sold newspapers, but it became the start of the world’s greatest (and most publicized) bike race.

The Tour de France is such a difficult and iconic event that ranking in the top 10 is a lifetime achievement.

And that newspaper?

It killed its competition in 1904, just a year later, thanks to the popularity of the Tour.

To create demand for your products, sometimes you have to think outside the box.

You have to take some risks. And those efforts just might have an impact on your industry that can be felt for years (or decades) to come.

What big (“too risky”) ideas have you been sitting on lately?

Your friendly neighborhood copywriter,

Anna @ CreativeDemand



Anna McKenzie

Christ follower. Copywriter-in-Chief @ CreativeDemand, LLC. Author of Mission, Market, Message: The Actionable Guide to Marketing for Small Business Owners.