The current buzz in sport is all about whether Rio will be ready for the Olympic Games, but next year also brings the UEFA European Championships in football. Yes, I know, it only seems like five minutes ago we were all trekking off to Poland and Ukraine unsure of what lay ahead, and yet here we are again talking ticketing, hospitality grids and sponsor activation programmes for France 2016.
There are three huge positives for next year’s Championships as I see it; first is that working with UEFA is a joy, they are well organised, friendly, and genuinely want everyone involved from fan to sponsor to benefit from the event. The recent UEFA workshop in Nyon was a pleasure to attend (that cannot be said for all sponsor workshops….I can assure you!). The second is that the newly extended tournament, an increase to 24 teams from 16, is being held in France, a country with fantastic sporting infrastructure and a real pedigree in delivering world class events, not least the FIFA ’98 World Cup and Rugby World Cup 2007. The final plus is that all the home nations bar the (unlucky?) Scots have qualified for a major tournament that is easily accessible both in terms of transportation and cost.
In light of recent events in Paris, security is sure to be of paramount importance to the UEFA and the Local Organising Committee Team and I hope that the great sporting public show their unity by offering their support to this fantastic sporting festival right on our doorstep.
So, what are the key factors for delivering sponsor programmes in France, and how does an agency such as ours go about getting the very best in inventory and opportunity for our clients? I think there are a couple of golden rules for success in France:
Embrace the culture. The French like dealing with the French, I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, quite the opposite. I respect the way the French expect to be able to deal in the French language with local resources. The usual ‘the cavalry has arrived’ invasion of the Brits/Aussies/Saffa event managers will not be well received, nor should it. Instead, it is time for me to dust down my BA Hons in French, get on Eurostar, and get parlez-vous’ing.
France has an amazing train network, use it. For RWC 2007 we were told the teams would be transported from city to city via TGV. Eyebrows were raised at the time, but my strong memory is that it was a huge success…..much better for athletes and guests to be able to hop on a privatised carriage on a train in the centre of town, have flexibility to move around and enjoy high quality food as opposed to the torture of airports, queues, tiny seats etc. SNCF are now confirmed as a local sponsor for Euro 2016 and will doubtless again put on additional and fantastic resources.
Due to its central location and ease of transport, great flexibility can be offered regarding the duration of VIP, B2B & B2C programmes which can result in the overall activation being far more cost efficient. The usual ‘2 night minimum’ can be tinkered with to guarantee maximum brand exposure and experience for reduced costs by having guests from France’s nearest neighbours come in for a day or a night only.
Partner with local resources. Finding a fruitful and mutually beneficial partnership is always key to successful delivery of a sponsor activation programme. ‘Aces in their places’, and all that. I can operate a spreadsheet and plan hospitality grids like a true pro, but I feel my brand equity when dealing with a little seafood restaurant in the back streets of Nice would not quite cut la moutarde in the same way as someone local who has known the maître d’ for 30 years.
Maybe a little sejour to France is just what would motivate your key stakeholders? How great to have a tournament of this calibre on our doorsteps, in a country where a truly world class sporting and cultural experience can be enjoyed.
Corporate hospitality is already open for sale for Euro 2016. Match ticket prices are beautifully affordable (starting from €25) with some already sold and more bound to fly off the shelf once the groups are known.
The long awaited Draw takes place on Saturday 10th Dec after which there is bound to be a rush of interest. Who will get the group of death? Whose damaged metatarsal shall we all be blaming this time for England’s demise…..or will the duck finally be broken? One for the list to Father Christmas there.