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SBD Global/April 29, 2015/Marketing and Sponsorship

ASO Says Sponsorship Packages For This Year’s Tour De France ‘Almost’ Sold Out

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Tour de France top sponsors pay an average of $3.8M for their association.
Sponsorship packages for this year’s Tour de France are close to being sold out, according to race organizers. Laurent Lachaux, who is the sales & marketing director for Tour organizers Amaury Sport Organisation, told SBD Global that “we are almost there.” However, he added that there are always things that "can be done" in terms of sponsorships. Doping, which has shaken the trust of fans in the sport, seems to have had no impact on sponsorship revenue, with Lachaux saying that brands have been investing more and more money, year after year. "The upsurge in brands investing in cycling illustrates that they are beginning to look beyond the professional circuit and tapping into a hugely engaged, younger audience that’s active, health conscious and driven by lifestyle choices," said Samuel Feasey, account director at London-based sports marketing agency BrandRapport. He added that it provides an unrivaled shop window for brands. ASO did not provide specific figures in terms of sponsorship revenue, but the Tour’s top sponsorship category alone, Tour's Club, will bring in an average of €17.5M ($19M) this year. The Tour de France has five sponsorship categories -- Tour’s Club, Official Partners, Official Suppliers, Official Supporters and Technical Partners -- which range in value from an average of €3.5M ($3.8M) for top-level partners to €100,000 ($110,000) as value-in-kind deals for technical partnerships.

A BALANCING ACT: As more and more int’l sponsors join its sponsorship portfolio, ASO has to make sure the Tour stays true to its DNA, Lachaux said. “It’s a balance,” he said, speaking of satisfying the needs of French brands as well as of int’l partners. With the majority of the Tour’s sponsors continuing to be French brands, the commercial impact of starting the race outside of the country appears rather small and has more to do with promotion and publicity. "When we are starting from abroad, on one hand [our French partners] are very proud of it but on the other hand they say, 'My customers are not exactly where you are starting from, guys,'" Lachaux said. Feasey agreed that French brands see the Tour primarily as a platform to activate nationally. However, looking at last year’s Grand Depart in Yorkshire, he said, "it proved there is a massive appetite from commercial partners to invest in the event." Int’l brands such as Skoda or Nestlé will welcome the opportunity to activate their partnerships in a foreign country when the 102nd edition of the race kicks off in Utrecht, Netherlands on July 4.

THE RIGHT EXPOSURE: Sponsorships are the Tour’s second largest revenue stream, with TV being No. 1, Lachaux said. Compared to other global sports such as football or F1, which have followed the call of money toward pay-TV networks in recent years, ASO’s priority is to keep the race on free-to-air TV. “For us the more exposure we get on free channels the better it is for the image of the Tour,” Lachaux said. German public broadcaster ARD decided to live broadcast this year’s Tour after dropping it from its program in ‘12 due to cycling’s doping problem. Lachaux described the return to German free-to-air TV as "very important." ASO’s decision to leave money on the table by going the free-to-air TV route is a deliberate "choice," he said. "At the end of the day there’s no doubt that we must have a Tour that is accessible on the largest possible audience." The Tour's extensive global free-TV coverage also provides an unparalleled value to the participating teams. "The average media value for each team is upwards of £40 million ($61M) during the Tour, and accounts for a considerable percentage of a team’s overall media exposure per year," Feasey said. ASO also generates income from Tour merchandise and licensing. Additionally, cities that want to host the Tour have to pay an unspecified fee.

Source: TOUR DE FRANCE
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