Journalists love to break stories before their competition, so we’re proud of being the first to cover the Leatt neck brace. Getting a scoop about a big sponsor change is great, but it doesn’t compare with helping to put a truly life-saving product on the map.
Vital MX’s Content Director, Steve Giberson, has always had an interest in advancing motocross safety (maybe because he crashes so much?), so he was intrigued when he first came across the Leatt brace. With a handful of former pros now confined to wheelchairs due to riding accidents, Steve was hopeful about what the Leatt brace could mean for current riders. His review back in November, 2006, was the first time most people heard about it. Then in February, Steve filmed and posted to Vital MX a video with motocross legend David Bailey in which Bailey implored other riders to try out the Leatt brace. For those who don’t know Bailey’s background, he has spent the last twenty years in a wheelchair after suffering a career-ending riding accident.
That video set off a landslide. In an editorial he wrote about the video, Racer X Editor Davey Coombs said that it “pretty much stopped the busy supercross world in its tracks.” Motocross Action transcribed the video and printed the text in their magazine. Message boards were on fire with discussion about the video and the Leatt brace. Less than one week after we posted the video, top pros and amateurs who had never before worn neck braces were using the Leatt brace in competition.
The effect on Leatt, a small South African startup, was huge. On February 8, the day before we posted the Bailey video, their stock price was at $.14 per share. By February 20, their stock had more than quadrupled to $.60. Their stock has since settled in around $.45, giving the company a market value of around $50 million (US). Show this stock chart to your CFO if you need more budget for online marketing!
Perhaps most significant is how quickly and effectively consumers were able to learn about this groundbreaking product, and the positive impact this has had. Consider the post I saw on a regional motocross message board. It’s from a father writing about his son who crashed while using the Leatt brace:
“This video is the reason #475 and his brother #473 started wearing the Leatt Neck Brace.”¦ Due to the severe fracture on Garet’s L7, his neurologist could not believe he did not have neck injuries, knowing that he had to land on the top of his head to sustain the fractures that he did. I took the brace to the hospital last night and Georgeann showed it to the doctor and he confirmed the fact AGAIN that if Garet had not had the Leatt Neck Brace on he would have definitely broken his neck, no question.”
Being able to hear and see Bailey’s plea on video the day it was filmed gave it an urgency and impact that would not have been possible with traditional print media. We’re proud to have broken this story and put the spotlight on a product that makes motocross a safer sport.