You want to get people hyped? You want to get people frothing and on the verge of hysterics? You want to get a crowd, a group of enthusiasts, or a mountainside road lined with fans completely out of their minds? There is one sure fire trick: you give them free stuff. Candy, socks, tiny flags, inflatable noise makers, vuvuzelas, water bottles, stuffed animals, chocolates, etc. What you want to do is create a parade of devices that vomit free stuff into the crowd. We call this “chumming the waters,” and if you’ve spent any time watching Shark Week you’d totally get what we mean.
In any Le Tour stage, but especially the climbing stages, the people who line the road have been waiting for a long time. Before the race arrives they will have been standing, reclining, leaning, and pacing up and down the side of the road for hours; it’s no wonder, then, that over time their enthusiasm flags. Between the time they arrived in the pre-dawn light, slowly lumbering up the above category roads in their RVs and Estates, and the arrival of the peloton, even the most spirited fans do not have the energy to maintain the necessary output of enthusiasm. Thankfully Le Tour founders were not blind to this fluctuation of interest. After all, they were newspaper men come of age in the Hearst-ian era. They understood perfectly well that if the necessary enthusiasm was unavailable then it could and should be manufactured. What’s more, manufactured enthusiasm would turn out to be very very profitable.