Focal Flame Shoots Ad Campaign for Bike Fed: Reasons to Commute by Bike

Some of the best days in photography happen when the phone rings, and after the call ends, you think, "Wow, we HAVE to be a part of that." 

That was the situation when the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin asked Focal Flame Photography to be part of their ad campaign to help promote cycling in the Madison, Wisconsin area. A series of advertisements rolled out in newspapers, magazines, and billboards around the region to help spread a simple idea: bikes are a great form of transportation. 

All of the ads featured photographs taken by Madison photographer Clint Thayer, and all will feature local Madisonians - often in iconic locations. The campaign was produced in partnership with 20BY2020, a Bikes Belong advocacy effort that envisions 20% of all transportation occurring in the Madison region by bicycle by the year 2020.

To learn more about the message of the campaign, writer Robyn Perrin interviewed Amanda White, Associate Director of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin.


Focal Flame Photography: What inspired the ad campaign?

Amanda White/Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin: We are so fortunate to live in Madison - one of the best cities in the country for biking. We have incredible bike paths, over 50 miles of bike lanes, and new bike boulevards that will prioritize bicyclists. 

However, when we compare Madison to the world's best bicycling cities, we are far behind. Currently, in Madison about 4% of all the commute trips are made by bike. While in cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, over 50% of trips are made by bike. There are cities in Germany that support 20% of trips made by bike. Not only are these amazing bicycling cities, but they are also healthy, vibrant communities that have very strong economies.

By trying to achieve 20% of the commute trips made by bike by 2020, we are not only improving our bicycling, we are also improving our community. By biking and walking more, we save money on expensive gas, we provide exercise opportunities needed by both children and adults, and we support healthier air quality.

We are using the ad campaign to promote the benefits of bicycling, in addition to promoting our 20by2020 goal. Bicycling is good for individuals, it's good for families, and it's good for Madison. We hope our light-hearted, fun ad campaign will generate buzz around the joy of bicycling.

FFP: The sites for the images were carefully chosen. How did BFW and 20 by 2020 pick these particular locations?

AW: We had a brainstorming session with two excellent marketing volunteers. The message concepts came from these ideas. I then picked the locations based on the messages we were trying to portray.

FFP: Why did you decide to use commissioned photographic imagery in the campaign rather than stock photography or graphics-only?

AW: Using a skilled, professional photographer to shoot local, Madison sites was vital to the campaign. The images are central to the campaign and the most powerful aspect of the ads. We wanted folks to connect with the people in the images and imagine how they themselves may bike. In order to achieve this important connection, it was vital we use real Madisonians and images of popular Madison locations that people would recognize.

We were so fortunate that we had an amazing photographer! The images are exactly what I had envisioned!

Focal Flame Photography is honored to have been part of this important effort to spread awareness about cycling in Wisconsin. Give bike commuting a try! It's simple, fun, and a great way to get around!


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