TOUR DE FRANCE CITY DRESSING PROGRAMME
In 2014 the greatest sporting event on earth rode into Leeds bringing the world's media with it. Tour de France offered an unprecedented platform showcasing Leeds to an international audience. I was asked to lead a programme of City Dressing ensuring that the city looked its best from every angle. The brief was to be creative and imaginative, considering formal and informal spaces.
In addition the brand for the Tour de France was closely guarded and only to be used by main sponsors and partners so I needed to be inventive and promote the event without being able to use the brand or specific wording associated with the event.
The international focus of the Tour de France Grand Depart provided the city with a once in a lifetime opportunity to tell its story. The brand for the Tour de France is very corporate providing its many backers with high profile brand visibility and we needed to create opportunities for formal and official brand visibility whilst also wanting to use the opportunity to show off the creativity of the city which is often hidden from view. In addition to this the brand is very closely guarded and as such no official logos or wording could be used for any creative that was developed by the city.
The Tour de France has four distinctive colours relating to the winners’ jerseys – red and white sports, green, yellow and black. I used the official branding to mark the route through the city on lamppost banners giving the official sponsors prime brand visibility and honouring our basic city dressing commitments. I then commissioned 15 different artists to create fun, playful and engaging elements for more unusual locations such as the main train station, empty shop windows, the Town Hall which would be the backdrop to the start of the race, planters, and junction boxes. As we weren’t allowed to use the official brand and it didn’t lend itself to creativity, each of the commissioned artists were asked to incorporate the four key colours which tied very distinctive and different designs together across the city.
In addition to showcasing the talents of the city’s artists I also wanted to celebrate the creativity within the city’s communities. I created an open call with a budget of up to £500 for community ideas that were small, easy to implement and above all fun. The budget was for city dressing ideas rather than events and we received suggestions for bunting, banners and yarn bombing iconic statues in the city with knitted jerseys – the Black prince sporting his stage winner’s jersey became the most liked image on Leeds City Council’s Instagram and still holds that accolade four years later!
I also commissioned two point of sale packs – one for businesses which included tent cards for restaurant tables and till points, vinyl window stickers, and banners; and one for community groups hosting their own events which included bunting, posters and flyers with a blank space for them to advertise the details of their events, and stickers. A minimum amount of collateral was made free to all businesses and community groups who wanted to celebrate with an additional option to order more at their own costs should they wish to.
This combined effort brought together artists, residents, businesses and visitors alike to celebrate this momentous occasion which was televised around the world and dubbed ‘the grandest Grand Depart’ that the race organisers and officials had ever seen.