Barclays Brand London’s Boris Bikes

Last year the marketing world was chatting about the impressive statistics of Barclaycard’s branded Waterslide mobile gaming app, but this year the gossip has focused on Barclays sponsorship of a very physical, real world utility – London’s cycle hire scheme.


Following in the footsteps of Montreal’s’ Bixi bikes and Paris’ Velib programme, London’s scheme had one big bold difference – branding. Montreal’s Bixi cycling scheme doesn’t have a single overall sponsor but rather adopts a station-by-station, locally targeted sponsorship approach with backers such as Axa, Deloitte, Rogers paying to have their branding on thee bike stations nearest their buildings or outlets. While Paris scheme was created and is run by outdoor advertising giant JCDecaux in return for a 10-year exclusive contract to use the city scheme’s 1,500-odd digital display hoardings. But London’s cycle programme has a single sponsor slapped over every aspect of the scheme.


In one of the highest profile, most original and interesting sponsorships of recent times, the British banking brand buy the naming rights for the London scheme that has become known as Boris Bikes. Barclays Cycle Hire kicked off in mid 2010 offers Londoners, like Parisians, the chance to pick up, ride and drop off one of thousands of heavily Barclay’s branded hire bicycles at hundreds of locations across London’s zone one.


The £25m, five-year sponsorship also includes bright blue branded Barclays Cycle Superhighways scything across 12 routes in the British capital. The bank also promoted 45 Barclays Cycle Hire Roadshows across the city offering Londoners all the details on applying for membership registration and riding off.


The Barclays brand colours play a major role across the entire scheme. Barclays has a heavy branding presence on the bikes, docking stations and signage, as well as along the entirety of the superhighways (and on the relevant sections of the TfL website). This blanket affinity branding has attracted some criticism, especially from the city’s cycling community.




A well established bike-as-branded-utility has certainly provided useful to thousands of Londoners as the mayor and Barclays aim to help Londoners lead more active lives and promote the health and environmental benefits of cycling. The scheme has proved extremely popular.


But as for the value of the naming rights, well, the name most commonly used by Londoners is not Barclays Cycle Hire, but rather Boris Bikes (named after the city’s flamboyant mayor).


Barclay’s Cycle Hire – TFL – YouTube


Barclay’s Cycle Hire – Edith Bowman Promo – YouTube






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