Everything that’s Wrong with the Liberty Mutual Calves/Cyclist Commercial


Have you seen that commercial for Liberty Mutual Insurance? The one with the “cyclist”? Here’s the video on YouTube just in case you haven’t.

Does this commercial annoy you as much as it annoys me? It drives me crazy as a cyclist/triathlete AND a marketer. Let’s break it down.

Why the Liberty Mutual Calves/Cyclist/Fitness Junkie Commercial Is All Wrong

As a cyclist and triathlete, this commercial just screams its inaccuracies from a mountaintop. It raises the following questions in a cyclist’s mind:

  1. Is this guy a cyclist or triathlete? He’s wearing an aero helmet (competitive triathlete), has clip on aero bars on a road bike (beginner triathlete), has a disc wheel (competitive or wealthy triathlete), and is wearing a horrible kit (and a road kit at that).
  2. Why does he want to customize his calves? Is that insinuating that he had surgery to enhance his calves? And as a cyclist, I’d want bigger quads, not calves!
  3. Is Liberty Mutual insuring bikes now?

So the cyclist in me is sufficiently outraged that this commercial shows a complete lack of understanding of cycling and cycling culture.

The marketer in me is screaming because:

  1. Is Liberty Mutual trying to appeal to cyclists? Cycling is growing in the US. According to statista, “In 2016, around 12.4 percent of Americans cycled on a regular basis. The number of cyclists/bike riders in the U.S. has increased over the past three years from around 43 million to 47.5 million in 2017.” And statistics compiled by People for Bikes show that “The average North American bicycle commuter is a 39-year-old male professional with a household income in excess of $45,000 who rides 10.6 months per year.” This is a growing pastime amongst people with disposable income. It would be a good niche to target. BUT, if you’re going to appeal to a subset of people, you better make sure you understand that niche inside and out. These rookie mistakes would turn off any cyclist I know.
  2. Why didn’t they hire a consultant (or just ask a cyclist) to cast an eye over this for accuracy? With the millions of dollars they spend on advertising a year (no joke, $400 million in 2016).it astounds me that no one asked someone within this niche to look at it. At FGM Internet Marketing, we ALWAYS ask our client or a member of a relevant group to look at our writing and advertising if we’re relaying a message that we’re not 100% sure of.
  3. Maybe they’re not trying to appeal to cyclists. Maybe they’re trying to appeal to the general public who know nothing about cycling and wouldn’t notice these inaccuracies. Well, that’s a ridiculous strategy as well since road rage against cyclists seems to be increasing everywhere. As there are more cyclists on the road, there are more motorists who hate us (see this article). So for the general public, just having a cyclist in a commercial is likely to turn them off. Lycra has that effect on some people.

Why Your Marketing Agency Needs to Understand Your Audience

This commercial is a perfect example of what can go wrong if your agency doesn’t understand your audience. This commercial, in one fell swoop, repels cyclists and non-cyclists alike, and it was completely preventable! Good advertising isn’t having a big budget and flooding the airwaves with commercials. Sure, people will recognize your logo and jingle, but it might be for all of the wrong reasons. In fact, the most common “Liberty Mutual” searches on Google right now are “liberty mutual calves”, “liberty mutual commercial calves”, and “liberty mutual calf commercial” (click on the 3 dots to see the “Rising” search terms below), and comments are disabled on their YouTube video with 161 “thumbs down”.

Great marketing makes your brand recognizable, and adored, by your target audience. Brands create affinity through commonality or aspiration. Liberty Mutual has completely missed the mark on both of those points.

FGM Internet Marketing for Triathlon, Cycling, Racing, Health and Wellness, Plant-based Products

With this in mind, FGM Internet Marketing is the perfect marketing agency for brands in the following spaces:

  • Triathlon, cycling, running, or automotive racing
  • Health and wellness, especially holistic and naturopathy practitioners and products
  • Plant-based nutrition and products
  • Sustainable and environmentally conscious brands

Why? First, I’ve been a competitive triathlete since 2012 so I have a deep understanding of triathlon, cycling and running as sports. My husband builds race cars as a living so we have that wealth of knowledge to support my clients like RAM Clutches. Second, I have suffered from eczema since childhood and have been treated by Western medicine, Chinese medicine, and holistic methods. Western medicine never helped me as much as holistic and natural methods, and the side effects from Western medicine were not appreciated. Third, I’ve been plant-based/vegan since 2017. I have an in-depth understanding of what motivates people to go plant-based: for my health, for the animals, for the planet. Fourth, both my husband and I are environmentally conscious. We grow our own vegetables, actively compost to keep items out of the landfill, reduce and try to eliminate plastic from our lives, and live a fairly minimalist lifestyle.

If your products or services appeal to these audiences, FGM Internet Marketing is the digital marketing agency for your business. We bring passion, understanding, and over a decade’s worth of digital marketing success to the table.