Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sex Sells II: The Sequel

After putting up some posters and ads that used women and sex appeal to sell bicycles, I found that there were so many examples through the decades, it was difficult to narrow down the selections. But in looking through all the examples, I found a name that kept coming up again and again: Clément. The French (later French/Italian) company made bicycles and tires beginning in the 1870s, then later expanded into motorcycles as well. I'm not sure exactly when they quit making motorcycles and bicycles, but the tire business continues on today, although the ownership has changed, and the production is now in Taiwan.

This poster captures some of the spirit of the Cycles Gladiator poster from the same period. One thing I'm not certain of is whether this is the same Clément company as in the other ads -- This one lists "Fernand Clément," whereas the others are simply "Clément" -- a company I know to have been founded by Adolphe Clément. The poster artist, PAL, is the same as in the next one, however.
Here we have another mythology-inspired woman with wings on her boots, flying over the city with the bicycle. Note that her headdress is a rooster -- which was a trademark symbol for the Clément brand. It appears in some form in many of the other ads (but not the one above, which makes me wonder again if that is actually a different company).
This one has similar themes as some of the others, but rendered in a very cool Art Nouveau style. 
This one, from the late 1890s, lists the bicycles as well as the motorcycles. On the far right, one can see the trademark seal with the rooster on it.
This one is unique in that it shows a man and woman riding together on a tandem. The woman is dressed in what would have been sensible women's riding attire at the time. I like that the man is confident enough in the woman to let her captain the tandem. (or maybe not -- see comments)
This poster from the 80s is a favorite of mine. With the high contrast black and white, it almost looks like something out of a Fellini film. I have no idea what the ad is supposed to mean, or what's going on, but whatever it is, it's a great poster. By the way, notice that the rooster icon has become very stylized -- for a long time, until I saw some of those earlier ads, I thought it was supposed to be an eagle.
A very gratuitous ad, I believe from the late 80s, or early 90s. The line at the top, "Senti La Strada," means "Feel the Road." Given the photo subject and setting, that doesn't actually make any senseI mentioned in the previous post that one can find pretty gratuitous examples from any era.
Again, thoughts or reactions are welcome.


  1. re: woman "captaining" the tandem, I believe I see a linkage below the top-tube which would have connected the fork to the rear handlebar. I have seen older tandems of this configuration which are thus "captained" from the modern stoker position. The forward handlebar is fixed at the head-tube.

  2. If I saw that linkage, I didn't realize what it was. Interesting. Well, so much for the woman as captain -- I hoped it was a sign of liberation! Thanks for the note!

  3. Man seated mechanic.
    Woman customer.
    Clement famous for tubular tires.
    Tubular tires have to be tensioned before going on the rims, where
    they are held by adhesive.
    Scene shows tensioning - in more ways than one.
    Have the full size poster - Cologne trade fair early 90's.