SportBusiness International

Analysis and insight for the global sports business

Brand Engagment and the Tour de France

Brand Engagment and the Tour de France

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By: SportBusiness International team

9 Jul 2014
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David Wood, managing director of brand communication at UK-based marketing agency Jaywing, looks at the opportunities to capitalise on the buzz of this year's Tour de France.

The Tour de France is a long-running sporting institution and generates significant exposure across multiple media outlets. So how have brands and marketers across the country leveraged the world’s greatest cycling event to gain greater brand engagement?

The Tour has a number of official sponsors, including Vittel and Skoda. These brands have allocated a large spend and will benefit from wide-scale exposure through branding during the event. However, while sponsorship packages provide a way to increase awareness, brands also need to maximise the value of this substantial investment by activating their involvement. As an event so closely linked to geography, local businesses are in the perfect position to engage consumers at a time when all eyes are on them.

An example of this in action is the Yorkshire Festival, organised by Welcome to Yorkshire. Capitalising on the first three stages of the race passing through England’s towns and cities and starting in Leeds, the 100-day event showcased the region’s arts, culture and people in the lead up to the Grand Depart.

The excitement created around the festival also provided opportunities for local businesses to capitalise on the buzz, and Yorkshire Water was one brand that wanted to celebrate its locality by sponsoring the festival. It was aware that those enjoying the festival are their customers and therefore key people with which they want to engage, and through its involvement with the event, it was able to reach and target a local audience and join the conversation in the lead up to the Tour.

Now the race is back on home soil, brands hoping to interact around the event need to plan for consumers’ activity and drive engagement. Some industries are able to capitalise on the event by tailoring product ranges or offers accordingly to respond to the heightened footfall. For example, specific regions where the race is taking place are likely to see an increase in hotel bookings; the race can be used as an opportunity for these brands to introduce extras, such as cycle tours of the local routes.

Today, brands need to think beyond traditional offline and physical ways to increase consumer engagement and use online channels to further engage and make the most of their, often significant, investment in sponsorship. Skoda’s ‘Your Team’ digital campaign, for example, is a fantasy cycling game where participants compete with one another to get their hands on VIP tickets and special Skoda cycling equipment. By using social media and mobile platforms to interact, brands are able to play a valid part in conversations happening around the event. In doing so, these brands build an affinity with consumers who are passionate about the sport. 

While events like the Tour de France provide big budget sponsorship opportunities, savvy brands, official sponsor or not, use a wider omni-channel strategy that caters to today’s digital consumers. By committing a relatively modest additional budget to doing so, they create meaningful interactions with consumers that drive long-term engagement and make a genuine impact on the bottom line.

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