For being a motorcycle mega-brand in his own right, Valentino Rossi has been slow to adapt to this crazy new thing called the internet. A series of tubes, the internet has been a remarkable breakthrough on a variety of levels, changing the paradigm of how we eat, sleep, and waste our lunch breaks at work. Helping teenage girls gossip about their latest crushes, aiding in the massive distribution of pornography to middle-aged men who hide in their basements from their wives and children, and allowing no-talent journalistic hacks to masquerade around as proper motorcycle journalists, there is literally no telling how the internet will change our lives next, and what industries it will turn on their head.
Well get ready for another shockwave ladies and gentlemen, as the G.O.A.T. himself, Valentino Rossi, has hopped on this interweb bandwagon with full 0 & 1 force, first by finally creating his own official website, and now by signing up for a thing called Twitter. Tweeting, twatting, twittering so far in only Italian, Rossi was one of the last hold-outs of MotoGP riders to embrace the micro-blogging service (Randy de Puniet just got on Twitter this week too we might add. Thanks Lauren). Rossi’s move is sure to create a stir with the VR46 crowd, as his legion of fans can now take time out from their busy days of lathering neon yellow paint all of their bodies, and hang onto every one of Rossi’s 140 character messages.
So far, Rossi has tweeted about go-karting, his injured finger, and traveling to Melbourne. We wait with bated breath to see what photo the nine-time World Champion first tweets from his account. Bellissima.
In all seriousness though, it is interesting to see how long it’s taken the popular Italian rider to embrace marketing himself online and with social media. Perhaps the forefather and king of personal branding in motorcycle racing, Rossi is often credited as being a genius in promoting himself and his brand in the paddock. However when it comes to new technology, the Ducati Corse rider has been woefully behind the curve (on a side note, the MotoGP paddock as a whole is a bit slow on this whole “internet fad” thing, but that’s a different story for a different time). In a space where rival Jorge Lorenzo has over 270,000 followers, Rossi has a long way to go with his current 1,700 devote twitterees; though, we imagine as news of his digital hipness spreads this weekend, that number is surely going to skyrocket.
There’s an interesting parallel here about how MotoGP is changing, both from a (new) media perspective and from the age-old reality of new guns challenging the supremacy of the old guard. With Rossi’s supremacy on the track now being questioned, and certainly not helped by the ails of the Ducati Desmosedici, there begins as well an interesting dialogue of what purpose MotoGP serves its teams, rider, and more importantly sponsors. Is it enough to be a master on two wheels, or does a massive following of fans and marketable characteristics speak more loudly on racing’s ROI. We’re not sure, but Andrea Dovizioso might have some interesting insights.