Meta, the US tech giant behind Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp, posted an advertisement on its YouTube channel featuring East African cycling team Team Amani.
The team is based in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya with men’s and women’s teams making an impact on the gravel and in the world of virtual racing on Zwift.
Team Amani star in the commercial where they are shown on their local roads (both paved and gravel) as well as Zwift, along with all the new tech Meta aims to create, with some very exciting tech shown for e-runners of the future.
The video shows Team Amani riders riding their local asphalt and gravel roads, as well as Zwift where they competed in online races.
It also shows riders using potential new technologies from Meta, including new goggles that apparently showed you could ride outdoors on the roads, but also have an online experience at the same time.
On top of that, the video showed fans watching the electronic race from a bird’s eye view with a 3D projection of the Star Wars-esque race unfolding in front of them with the team members talking about the team and their own stories and struggles to get to the point where they have arrived.
In a CyclingTips article, Amani team representative and human rights lawyer, Mikel Delagrange, explained how when he first saw the email from production company Droga5, he thought it was spam, but decided to read further when he saw he had a nondisclosure agreement. .
Delagrange added: “I opened up the NDA, and I’m a lawyer of course, so I could see it was a real one. So it was like, ‘Let’s just see how far down the rabbit hole it goes. ‘
“It was super intense right off the bat, because it was really thorough. And so I was on the phone with my counterpart there, I think maybe an hour a day for about two months.
“They knew more about us than I think anyone before. It was a really serious production. It was a massive production when they finally gave the green light and they came to shoot this film with our athletes in Masaka, Uganda; Nairobi, Kenya; and Iten [also Kenya]. And we brokered a deal for the athletes, which was really, really beneficial for them individually – it was life-changing for everyone on the team.
“The production itself was completely insane. There were creatives in three or four different production houses. From South Africa, from Los Angeles, from London. They arrived like 50 people. It was crazy – it was awesome. Some of the best people in the world at what they do, to film this little piece. It was very cool.”
The ad was reportedly aired approximately twice a day on US television as well as across all Meta and YouTube platforms.
The announcement originally came out in mid-August around the same time as the tragic death of Amani team captain Suleiman Kangangi, who died after crashing during a gravel race in Vermont at the age of 33.