Tour de France – Team Sponsor Guide 2017

For three weeks, television commentators will praise sponsor after sponsor in one of the world’s most beautiful sports environments. Of course, I’m talking about the Tour de France.

The event is, by some, described as ”the world’s biggest annual sporting event”.

I won’t get in their, but rather state that depending on how you count, Tour de France really is the largest [insert the fact that makes ”Le Tour” the greatest] in the world. (Isn’t that a-m-a-z-i-n-g!)

But ok, which are the companies you will hear for countless hours the upcoming weeks?

Let’s take a look at the teams’ largest sponsors, also known as their title sponsors.

AG2R LA MONDIALE / France 

The team name is an amalgamation of two different financial firms from France; AG2R Group and La Mondiale Group. AG2R Group is an interprofessional insurance and supplementary retirement fund group. La Mondiale Group is an international group for supplementary pension and estate planning insurance.

ASTANA PRO TEAM / Kazakhstan 

Team Astana have gotten its name from the capital of Kazakhstan, as well as the colors of the cycling clothes. The actual sponsor is the National Welfare Fund ”Samruk-Kazyna”, a coalition of state-owned companies.

BAHRAIN – MERIDA / Bahrein 

Team Bahrain-Merida is an easy one. The name refers to the country Bahrain, whose government funds the team, and Merida, who make bicycles.

BMC RACING TEAM / United States 

BMC is an acronym for Bicycle Manufacturing Company. The company is based in Switzerland and manufactures bicycles.

BORA – HANSGROHE / Germany 

Two German companies sponsor this team. Bora is a Bavarian manufacturer of extractor fans (pictures) and the second name, Hansgrohe, is one of the world’s leading producers of shower heads.

CANNONDALE DRAPAC PROFESSIONAL CYCLING TEAM / United States 

Cannondale makes premium bicycles and the second title sponsor is Drapac Capital Partners, an American-based real estate firm.
Team Cofidis is a classic cycling team name. The main sponsor (Cofidis is a French company offering consumer loans either by phone or over the Internet. Their primary markets are, among others, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Italy (so a cycling team feels pretty ok, let’s be honest).

DIRECT ENERGIE / France 

The team name Direct Energie comes from French gas and electricity company with the same name.

FDJ / France 

FDJ is a short term for Française des Jeux, which operates the French national lottery. It’s a very classic Tour de France team that many spectators cheer some extra for. (Normally without particular success.)

LOTTO SOUDAL / Belgium 

As FDJ, Lotto Soudal is named by a gambling (lottery) company. The team has ”Lotto” from Belgium’s lottery, while ”Soudal” works with sealants, foams and adhesives.

MOVISTAR TEAM / Spain 

Movistar is a large telecommunications brand, owned by Telefónica. They are operating in Spain and Hispanic American countries.

ORICA – SCOTT / Australia 

This one is interesting. Orica is “the world’s largest provider of commercial explosives and innovative blasting systems to the mining, quarrying, oil and gas and construction markets” (source). An odd bird, unlike bike manufacturer Scott.

QUICK – STEP FLOORS / Belgium 

Quick-Step, a classic cycling sponsor, is a manufacturer of laminate flooring. They have been sponsoring the team for many, many years – but this is the first year they are solo (which explains the addition of ”Floors” in the name).

TEAM DIMENSION DATA / South Africa 

Until last year this team was known as ”Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka”, with ”Qhubeka” being a bicycle-related African charity. However, the team had to cut Qhubeka of the official name because people thought the organization was so risch they no longer needed donations. Dimension Data are an IT company.

TEAM FORTUNEO – OSCARO / France 

Fortuneo is an online bank, while Oscaro sells car parts online. There is some questions about if the team name will be Team Fortuneo-Vital, and if you hear that one you might want to know that Vital comes from Vital Concept, who sell agricultural and equestrian equipment.

Katusha Sports makes sporting clothes and Alpecin make hair products, like ”caffeine shampoos and caffeine liquids” (no joke).

TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO / Netherlands 

How about another lottery brand? This one it’s time for the Dutchmen, explaining the addition ”NL” to the name. The second part, Jumbo, is a supermarket chain.

TEAM SKY / Great Britain 

Maybe the most well-known team name these days comes from Great Britain and the television brand Sky.

TEAM SUNWEB / Germany 

Sunweb offers summer package holidays, winter sports deals, hotels and all inclusive holidays. A travel brand, that is.

TREK – SEGAFREDO / United States 

This combo-name is built from Trek, that makes bicycles, and Segafredo Zanetti, the leading Espresso producer in Italy.

UAE TEAM EMIRATES / United Arab Emirates 

Yes, you guessed it, of course the United Arab Emirates has their own team. (Or at least their own team name.)

WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT / France 

Wanty is an international company active in the sectors of construction, earthmoving and demolition. Their sponsor-mate, Gobert Group, sell construction materials.

Tour de France – Tour Sponsors

For better resolution: Tour de France Partners 2017

TOUR’S CLUB

  
 

OFFICIAL BROADCASTERS

 

OFFICIAL PARTNERS

    
   

OFFICIAL SUPPLIERS

       
      

OFFICIALS SUPPORTERS

  

TECHNICAL PARTNERS

  
  

OFFICIAL MEDIA PARTNERS

   

INSTITUTIONAL PARTNERS

  

It’s hard to see and feel when you look at the actual event, but Tour de France could be one of the most commercialized sports events in the world.

IOC and McDonald’s ”mutually” agreed to end the TOP Partnership

After 41 years of marriage, the Olympics and McDonald’s will take different paths forward. The news came like a bomb in the sports marketing business.

Let us first focus on this bullshit called ”mutually agreed” termination.

Read this two quotes from the press release:

”In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, we understand that McDonald’s is looking to focus on different business priorities. For these reasons, we have mutually agreed with McDonald’s to part ways”, said Timo Lumme, Managing Director of IOC Television and Marketing Services.

”As part of our global growth plan, we are reconsidering all aspects of our business and have made this decision in cooperation with the IOC to focus on different priorities”, said McDonald’s Global Chief Marketing Officer Silvia Lagnado.

Just… no. They may agree that they do not agree. Nothing more.

Will the IOC have a backup partner?

There can be one main reason for why a rightsholder like the IOC terminate such a contract as this with McDonald’s – and that’s if they already have someone who can replace them with more money.

But that’s not the case here. A competitor to McDonald’s wouldn’t pay so much more than McDonald’s, it’s not worth the risk and surely not the work to get another company through the media clutter.

All (other) TOP Partners have agreements through to 2020, with Bridgestone, Panasonic and Toyota through to 2024, Alibaba through to 2028, and Omega through to 2032.

Could it be a political statement?

There is more likely that this is a political statement from McDonald’s (read: I’m not saying it is, but it’s more likely).If I worked at the FIFA marketing department, I should be a little bit nervous about the fast-food contract that will display the company in questioned World Cups as in Russia and Qatar.

If I worked at the FIFA marketing department, I should be a little bit nervous about the fast-food contract that will display the company in questioned World Cups as in Russia and Qatar.

And please note that McDonald’s will never say that it is a political statement (if it is). In four decades they have been a part of the Olympic development and decisions, so saying the IOC is ”developing in the wrong” way will implicitly mean that they didn’t care during the last years.

Business trumps someone else’s legacy.

Will Intel take the leap?

However, for the IOC Marketing department, the rumor says Intel will take a step upwards to become a TOP Partner.

According to SportsBusiness Global, ”the question over Intel’s exact category definition has been at the forefront of negotiations for nearly a year with drones and virtual reality both possible components of a deal”. And keep in mind that the IOC already has numerous other tech-partners, including Samsung, Panasonic and Alibaba.

Intel will have a press conference on June 21, but it’s not confirmed that it will be about the Olympics.

Will Average Joe care at all?

But let us head back to McDonald’s decision one last time, because I want to note that the timing is logical. The next three Olympics will be held while McDonald’s largest market (America) are asleep.

Maybe Pyeongchang, Tokyo and Beijing was a brilliant move in the long-term, efficiently work the growing Asian market, but it might have fastened this decision.

”The IOC has three sturdy hosts lined up next, but you can see the cracks spreading. They needed to go back to Beijing for the second time in 14 years, which looks desperate”, wrote Cathal Kelly in a read-worthy column.

”McDonald’s departure is just the latest signal that the Olympic operation is in decline, along with the benefit to being linked with it.”, he adds.

As a sponsorship nerd, it will also be interesting to see how McDonald’s brand recognition and brand values will (maybe) change – in context with the Olympics. I’m sure we sports marketers overestimate what ”Average Joe” thinks about sponsors and rightsholders.

(And I don’t blame them…)

I promise you a very, very large share of the population will still think McDonald’s is an Olympic (TOP) partner for many, many years. And for all the National Olympic Committees, the food category will easily be filled with local partners. So by the end, it’s no big deal for a big meal.

”Technology brings people together, just like sports”

Sometimes I wonder if we have a ‘social media bubble’ in the sports business industry, or if it’s just me being older and older…

The Serie A Club Napoli recently announced a partnership with the dating app Tinder, a somehow a unique way to reach out with fan communication.

“I’m really proud to be part of this unique and innovative initiative with Tinder”, said pro player Arkadiusz Milik, coming back to the club from a long injury break. The 23-year-old suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury last October, and has only made 14 appearances this season.

“Technology brings people together, just like sports, and I look forward to starting this new adventure.”

Another tech company that moves forward is… Twitter

The social channel is known as THE media for breaking news and immediate reactions. Therefore, it makes sense that they wish to continue their focus with live sport and, according to Digital Sport, the analysis of it is that when it comes to sport, Twitter is where the conversation takes place between fans, friends, journalists and sportspeople alike.

And their next move is to provide the users with video content; a streaming platform.

“If you’re a brand, there’s no better time to reach and engage your audience through premium video content,” said Matt Derella VP, Global Client Solutions in a corporate blog post.

Recommended reading:

I might be older for each day, but catching up these tech and social news at least makes me less old-fashioned. Hype or not, it’s all a part of our everyday business.

 

It all makes sense now: Amazon and Discovery/Eurosport in cooperation

There is no secret that Discovery Networks have made som massive broadcasting deals the recent years. Maybe we’ve got the answer to why – by the new cooperation with Amazon.

Discovery Networks UK and Amazon have signed a major streaming partnership bringing, among others, major sports events – including the Olympic Games, the French Open and the Tour de France – direct to Amazon Prime customers in the UK for the first time.

Amazon has just secured a deal to screen 10 live NFL matches over the course of the next year in the US for $50m, so some analysts see the Eurosport deal as a sign of the company’s intent to become a major player in sports broadcasting.

”For the first time, Prime members in the UK will be able to choose to watch premium TV channels without having to sign up to a bundle or a contract, giving them the freedom to pay for only what they want to watch,” said Alex Green, MD, Europe, Amazon Channels.

”From live sport to Bollywood, arthouse cinema to reality TV, plus award-winning TV shows from popular channels like Discovery and ITV, Amazon Channels gives power back to customers to choose exactly what they want to watch.”

Mr Green also declined to “rule in” or “rule out” the possibility of Amazon acquiring its own live exclusive rights to top-tier sports content such as the English Premier League in the future.

Recommended reading:

Will today be the tipping point of modern sports broadcasting? Maybe it all makes sense now…

How to Ace Social Media – 12 Tips from Wimbledon

Wimbledon is one of the world’s most prestigious sports tournaments and the crown jewelry of the tennis Grand Slams. At the sponsorship conference IEG, Alexandra Willis, head of communications, content and digital with The All England Lawn Tennis Club, shared 12 tips on how rightsholders can take full advantage of the power of social and digital media.

The presentation was named “How to Ace the Opportunities Presented by Social Media” and following is an extract of the take-aways.

  • Follow Alexandra Willis on Twitter here, and IEG here.

1) Articulate your purpose

The most important role of social media is to articulate your purpose and what you stand for. As an example, Wimbledon goes back to its roots with their iconic attributes: grass, strawberries, whites, royalty and the hill.

”We spent a lot of time thinking about what we want social media to do for us, and we settled on the idea that social media for Wimbledon should be the next best thing to being there. How can we use social media to articulate what it’s like to walk through the gates for the first time and be greeted by this amazing structure covered in ivory?”

The second part of Wimbledon’s purpose is more tactical and they split it into two buckets. The first one is about acquiring new fans, and the second is about activating and retaining their existing audience.

2) Develop your tone

The second thing Wimbledon did was to concentrate the tone of voice and character in how you want people to interact with your content.

”We settled on the idea that Wimbledon should be perceived as a slightly bumbling, eccentric, English gentleperson. Gentle is very much a part of our brand DNA. But it should be fun, not stuffy or uptight, hence the reference to bumbling and eccentric.”

This tip is used by many brands to make relevant storytelling; by itself or help fans to tell the story to each other.

3) Treat each channel with respect

Wimbledon doesn’t want you to see the same content in different channels, at least not in the exactly same way. Treat every social channel with respect, and try not to do the same thing across all of them.

”We spend a lot of time and energy creating content. Am I just going to put it everywhere? If you haven’t thought about the channel, including what it is designed to do and how consumers interact with it, then that lovely piece of content won’t perform in the way that it should.”

In short, the tournament developed content strategies for each channel.

4) People matter

”People really, really matter”, Alexandra Willis says, according to IEG.

”If you’re going to invest your money anywhere, invest it in getting the right people to support you.”

Having the right people on your team who will help you do social media well is absolutely crucial. And don’t be afraid to ask the younger audience as an ”advisory board”, they will now.

5) Don’t be afraid to have fun

Personally, I find this tip maybe the best one to take with me to my next assignments. Don’t underestimate to get an ”OK” to improvise, and don’t forget to do just that.

”This was definitely a hurdle when we presented the strategy to our committee – that social media should be fun. An event like The Masters has always been very wary of any kind of humor or anything tongue-in-cheek.”

Mistakes are a part of life.

”I once posted a picture from a Beyoncé concert on the Wimbledon account. You make mistakes, and you move on.”, tells Alexandra Willis.

6) Embrace multiple platforms

There is, as the head of communication describes it, ”so much written about the power of video”, and moving pictures are very powerful.

”We had an illustrator create a series of animated GIFs to relive historic Wimbledon moments. It was a slightly different twist on pumping out archived content. That’s something that we’ve really tried to think about.”

To be ”digi-physical” also works well for Wimbledon.

The event created a giant hedge with the @Wimbledon sign.

It was intended to be a prompt for people to follow the official Wimbledon accounts, but it became a photo opportunity for people at Wimbledon.

Sometimes great ideas don’t fall out as you expect, but they become good anyway.

7) Pull from your audience…but also push to them

It’s important to know what your audience is interested in, but also to be confident in your own content.

The mix is easier said than done, and Wimbledon has divided their content strategy into three buckets.

A. Planned

The first type of content is the content that you can pre-plan.

You’re going to push it out at 9:02 a.m. on the first day of the tournament, it’s going to go to these countries and these audiences in these markets. That’s something we have begun to do more of.

The problem is that you can’t plan and produce all of your content in beforehand because A) it’s expensive and B) you might lose impact, you want to be live with your audience; the essence of social media.

B. Preemptive

The types of content you can try to plan for.

We know that every year the defending champions will open center court on the first day. Equally, we know that at the end of the week five people will be crowned Wimbledon champions. So how can we try to prepare for those moments and think about the ways we’re going to cover them?

Besides the sport, Wimbledon has some key events that are relevant to them throughout the year, such as National Strawberry Day, Christmas and other holidays. Preplan and fit your message into those kinds of events/holidays.

C. Reactive

Thirdly, there is the stuff that you can’t plan for; the main part of live sports events.

David Beckham came to Wimbledon a couple of years ago and caught a rogue tennis ball. The piece of content was until recently one of the most watched videos across the BBC’s social channels. It’s one of those things that you don’t know is going to happen, but you can make sure you’re ready by having the right tools and the right people.

A personal tip for ”reactive social media success” is to do as the number five above, to plan for it. What I say is that you have to make room for spontaneity in your time budget and create a culture for your staff that makes them creative enough to capture the moment you never now will happen.

8) Content first, partner second

One of the things that social media offers is the ability to create and monetize new revenue streams. But if you are going to succeed you have to put the content first and the partner second, Alexandra Willis says.

Wimbledon has a good case with Evian, putting the brand behind the content.

That’s really difficult when someone is sitting there saying ‘hang on, I’m paying you lots of money, I want my brand in the copy, I want a pre-roll, I want a post-roll, and I want product placement.’

If you want your audience to engage with a piece of content, the worse thing you can do is to oversell it.

If you put out a piece of content that is too commercial and too heavily branded, nobody will watch it and no one will engage with it.

On the other side, without your sponsors, many event rightsholders can’t engage their visitors at all.

9) Invest (wisely) in collaborations

Collaborations between events, influencers and other rightsholders can be both good and bad, Alexandra Willis tells IEG. You have to invest your time and budget wisely.

Influencers are probably the most common collaboration category.

We did something with Food Tube, which is a channel in partnership with Jamie Oliver around strawberries and crème. Tom Daley (Olympic diver) came to Wimbledon and did one of his microblogs about his journey and how he enjoyed the experience.

But partnerships can also be made between different rightsholders, which from the beginning can be seen as competitors.

Last year, Wimbledon collided with the UEFA European Championship.

When that happens, everyone forgets that tennis exists and they all concentrate on football. So we went to UEFA and said ‘Is there some kind of content series we can create to cross-promote both of our events?’ It was particularly appropriate because the two finals were on the same day.

The solution was Wimbleskills, that asked both tennis fans and pro soccer players to show their skills with a tennis ball.

10) Test and track what you do

This tip is pretty interesting, and kind of made me think how so many clubs in team sports (leagues) can be so horrible in social media.

We’re a two-week event. We don’t have a warm-up or a practice event. It’s very difficult to test stuff. Football clubs have the luxury of opportunities once or twice a week. We find this particularly challenging.

Alexandra Willis makes an example with video formats.

The tradition is to deliver content on a 16:9 display screen; now everyone is consuming content on a phone. Is that the right way to create video content, or should we create it square? We spoke with Facebook about this, and they said ‘well, have you tested it?’ We just ran some tests with the same piece of content on our web page and the square performed five times better than the non-square.

So come on soccer, football, ice hockey, handball, volleyball and all other league sports… test! (At least in your preseason…)

11) Treat platforms as a collective

When you think about your website, you should think about social media as well. Social and digital channels go together.

There might be other people who are part of that collective. We have broadcast partners and official suppliers. If we’re creating content for our own channels, we should think, are there opportunities to leverage what they bring to the table?

Last year Wimbledon gave content to Bleacher Report for their daily Snapchat Discover story. It helped the classic tournament to reach a different audience.

12) Don’t force it

Alexandra Willis last tip is to not force your content.

We had an exhibition of the most famous posters in tennis a few years ago at the Wimbledon museum. The most famous poster in tennis is called tennis girl. It’s a picture of a lady hitching up her dress and holding a tennis ball. We used that as a piece of content to promote the exhibition. There was an uproar. ‘How can you use sex to sell an exhibition?’

We thought ‘Oh no, what are we going to do?’ So we crafted an apology and we got a barrage back the other way saying ‘What are you doing? Why are you reacting to these people who are overly sensitive?’

Stay true to who you are and don’t force it when you don’t have to, Alexandra Willis finishes.

And it totally connects to her first mantra: to start with your purpose.

I have been playing tennis since I was a kid and followed the tournament ever since. One of my main takeaways from their digital journey as a tennis fan is that it’s done without losing the touch at all. Social channels have made Wimbledon more ”open” than ever, but it’s still as exclusive and mysterious as it’s always been.

Will LA 2024 be the most innovative Olympics ever?

The city of Los Angeles goal is to be world-leading in the areas of innovation, technology, and green initiatives. With the Silicon Valley only 350 miles away, the conditions couldn’t, of course, be better. The strategy will have an impact on the Olympics – if Los Angeles wins the bid for the 2024 Summer Games.

One of the ”innovative” areas LA 2024 are looking at is eSports.

LA2024 Chair, Casey Wasserman, says:

”eSports’ immense global popularity and continued advances in digital technologies as tremendous tools for reconnecting millennials with the Olympic movement.”

Augmented reality could be real

Casey Wassermann hopes that technologies such as augmented reality will make the Olympics more interesting to a younger demographics, and ”to promote healthy lifestyles [as] a key objective… to create a new Games for a new era in 2024”.

LA2024 is also looking at hackathons.

The bid organization sponsored, for the second consecutive year, the LA Hacks Hackathon event at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. The event brings together programmers to work intensively around the clock on hardware and software issues and solutions, including some that will be integrated into the Olympics.

”LA 2024’s involvement with LA Hacks… is proof of young people’s love for the Olympic and Paralympic Games – participants jumped at the opportunity to contribute to creating the most innovative Games experience in history.”, says Luke Chui, LA Hacks President and current UCLA student, to SportsFeatures.com.

VR – the closest to the Olympics you will ever be?

Then, there is Virtual Reality.

California-based company NextVR are making progress to re-invite live, immersive sports broadcasting. Partnering with leagues such as the NBA and Major League Baseball, fans can experience the games through virtual reality via the NextVR app. The broadcasts feature multiple camera views, replay, graphics, and even dedicated commentator and analysts.

And don’t forget the sustainability program with green innovation in center.

”Under the leadership of the venue’s owner, AEG, StubHub Center will be the location of LA 2024’s Green Sports Park, highlighting the best in sport and green innovation.”, said Brence Culp, Sustainability Director of LA 2024.

And, as the GreenSportBlog describes it:

”Before we get to LA 2024’s sustainability story, let’s reflect on this: How GREAT is it that the two remaining bids to host the 2024 Summer Olympics are in a figurative, innovative battle to see which is the most sustainable? Would this have been the case five years ago? I think not. To channel my inner Joe Biden, this is a ‘big…deal!'”

LA2024 will seek to be an early innovator of new technologies that ”have not even been created yet”. On September 13, we will know if Los Angeles will be the host of the Olympics 2024, or if Paris has beaten them.

NFL owners vote to approve Raiders move to Las Vegas

NFL team owners voted to approve the Raiders’ proposal to relocate to Las Vegas. Once they move, it will mark the franchise’s third relocation since its inception in 1960.

The decision by NFL ownership is the culmination of years of efforts by the Raiders to find a viable stadium solution – continuously in Oakland, then in Los Angeles before eventually agreeing to participate in a partially publicly financed stadium project in Las Vegas.

However, Raiders won’t immediately move to Las Vegas since construction of their planned $1.7 billion domed stadium isn’t expected to be completed until 2020.

”My father always said, ‘the greatness of the Raiders is in its future,’ and the opportunity to build a world-class stadium in the entertainment capital of the world is a significant step toward achieving that greatness.”, said Raiders owner Mark Davis to NFL.com.

The move marks the third NFL team relocation in less than 14 months. The Rams moved from St. Louis back to Los Angeles last year and the Chargers announced their decision to move from San Diego to L.A. in January.

How sponsorship can retain your customers

In a world where you can swift from one brand to another in just a couple of clicks, customer satisfaction and loyalty increases in value. To keep their customers happy, O2 has prioritized sponsorship as a key platform.

O2 sponsors, among others, the O2 Arena, Rugby Football Union and 19 O2 Academy music venues.

According to IEG, the company has reduced contract churn from 1.8 percent to 0.9 percent over the last decade, a result the company credits in part to its marketing investments.

“The Priority program has resulted in a significant reduction in churn among customers who use it actively,” said Nina Bibby, O2 chief marketing officer, to IEG.

O2 reportedly paid £6m a year in 2007 when the partnership with O2 Arena began, and it’s thought that the value of the deal has increased over the decade as the venue has become more popular. The latest report says £125m for 10 years.

O2 is working with AEG on different technology integrations, such as enhanced Wi-Fi and smart phone apps. With these features, AEG can track crowd movement, analyze the most popular moment of the night (measured by crowd noise) and other insights.

The 21 year-old partnership with the Rugby Football Union is also used to offer ”exclusive experiences”, content and other offers as part of the Priority customer loyalty program. In 2016, O2 extended the RFU partnership for another five years.

“We know customers love live experiences we offer them with rugby and concerts so now we’re focusing on how digital can enhance those experiences before, during and after [events]. That’s really what we want to try and do more of, that whole end-to-end experience from live to digital and back.”, says Nina Bibby to The Drum.

Stadium sponsorships are perfect for these kind of loyalty programs because the arena can offer different types of entertainment; you can please both sports and music fans with one partnership (read: one brilliant activation idea is enough). Sometimes the most ”obvious” campaigns are the best; give your (most loyal) customers the possibility to buy tickets before others. 

Nike’s sports hijab tells us that giant brands might (finally) have the guts

Nike announced that they will launch a specially-designed hijab in spring 2018. The initiative is another proof that major sports brands ”dare” to push opinons in what earlier was considered as ”taboo” areas for commercial giants. But notice, it took them 17 (!) years to copy the sports hijab.

According to Nike, the Pro Hajib was inspired by Sarah Attar, the runner from Saudi Arabia who competed in the London Olympics 800-meter race (while wearing a hijab).

Zahra Lari, the United Arab Emirates’ first international figure skater, said on Instagram she is “super excited” to be involved in the launch campaign and is already wearing the hijab on the ice.

“When I go to competitions, people usually have a lot of questions about it because they’ve just never seen anyone like that,” Lari said. “But it’s just that they’re curious about it. They’ll be staring and they’ll come and they’ll ask me. They want pictures with me or something like that. I think it’s a good way to spread the word, like, ‘We’re normal. There’s nothing different between me and you.’”, Lari described to Washington Post last summer.

However, I think it’s worth a note that the sports hijab is not a new invention (which Nike never states, but you might think).

For 17 years ago, in 2001, Cindy van den Bremen created the first sports hijab and founded Capsters, which has been selling them since then.

”Capsters introduced the first sport hijab in 2001, co-designed with Muslim athletes. We have been knocking on doors of sport federations to lift hijab bans and have been sharing stories of role models since. It has taken a long time for the mainstream brands to take notice, but it finally happened!”, the brand says on Facebook.

It’s easy to say that Nike is the copy-cat, but on the other side, the company have the muscles to make a ”real” impact. And I’m the first in line to cred Nike for the initiative, as long as it’s for real and not a one-off. Just do it.

Snow volleyball can make the sport double Olympic

With a little bit of luck (and a lot of hard work), volleyball can be the first sport to appear in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Say hello to snow volleyball.

The ”new” sport is spreading in the European alps and the international federation, FIVB, have their eyes on the Winter Olympics.

“Unfortunately, all winter games are limited to those countries where conditions for practicing winter sports are available. But within that group of winter sports countries, I think snow volleyball is going to be a big success. I really hope we can see it at the Olympics one day.”, says Martin Lebl, beach volleyball Olympian from Sydney 2000.

With a European tour already established, volleyball officials have set out an agenda that would bring the new snow sport to Asia, Argentina and the United States with an eye toward approval as a demonstration sport at the 2022 Beijing Games.

Sorry, I have no idea if snow volleyball have any chance to be a demonstration sport ”already” 2022. However, I find it interesting that Red Bull logos always appear in those new, hip contexts…

Why Facebook and Twitter broadcast sport

La Liga has announced a deal with Facebook to live stream matches regularly and reports says that MLB are close to send one game per week in the social media channel. The new media houses are big time into sports – and it won’t slow down.

Facebook has a deal with Spanish broadcaster Univision to stream Mexican soccer matches, and the social media company has live-streamed different events over the past year. What we can see now is that the new media giant is looking at going from ”one-off deals” to longer broadcasting contracts.

According to Forbes, the ad revenues grow at a slower rate for Facebook and the company is looking to attract (even more) video advertisers, as marketers shift their advertising spend from TV to digital media.

”With its huge user base and personalized ad targeting features, Facebook is focusing on video to drive revenues. As it looks to acquire broadcasting rights to popular sports events with a TV app in the offering, we believe this strategy can bring the next wave of growth for the company”, Forbes say.

Considering both Facebook and Twitter are looking at live sports as a catalyst to drive user engagement, growth and (eventually) revenues, there’s a good chance that 1) it can be competition about the rights, but also that 2) a lot of different (and small!) right holders will have a digital streaming partner.

It’s important to notice that the major sports leagues have already sold the broadcasting rights ”traditional” TV networks and that the contracts are very long, some may be up to a decade from now. Of course selling the (digital) streaming rights could bring in new revenue for the rights holders, but it could also nibble the traditional TV audiences – and by that make their TV partners unhappy.

One of the advantages of a live stream in social media channels is that people are able to interact (and react) in real-time when something happens. The interaction in ”traditional” media dependent of second screens. With social media broadcasting, there’s only need for one screen – the second…

The never ending question – grassroots or gold medals?

According to a survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of Pro Bono Economics, 7% of the UK people said they had been inspired to take up sport by the London Olympics.

And here’s some of the explanations, or should I say ”excuses”, from the rest:

  • 18% blamed ”their busy lifestyle” for their failure to get active
  • 17% cited the cost of playing sport as being the main thing stopping them
  • 12% claimed a lack of local facilities
  • 12% said they simply lacked the confidence to participate in sport.

“Britain really has got sport upside down. Why spend billions on an Olympics when few kids in the country have the facilities to play judo, fencing or equestrianism anywhere near their homes?”, journalist and author Simon Kuper commented the findings.

But the ”effects” of the London 2012 isn’t that easy.

According to UK Sport, who published their own answer to the study, more than half a million people claimed that they and their families were doing more exercise, more than two months after the event. And this was participants from the ”I am team GB” campaign alone.

Personally, I want to track as many of these studies I can to get the most insights ahead of the Swedish campaign for the Winter Olympics 2026. The politicians will give notice of an application this autumn.

‘Experience their experience’ and 15 other takeaways

Sportsbiz wizard Neil Horowitz attended an annual sports conference in Newport Beach and picked up ”countless nuggets of wisdom” and insights.

In his latest blog post, Neil shares 16 key takeaways.

  1. Fans are looking for tickets on mobile, but more of the money is still on desktop
  2. Personalization is prime
  3. UVA is getting the most they can out of social media
  4. New fans are tougher to come by than retaining old fans
  5. Groups getting easier
  6. Michigan is mixing marketing with excitement
  7. Mike Veeck says fear of failure can’t hinder innovation and creativity
  8. Experience their experience
  9. The difference between creating demand and meeting demand
  10. Keys to hiring right, from Disney
  11. If you’re resolving pain points, make sure the people who need to know, know
  12. Data is useless without strategy and organization
  13. Stanford is making it easier on mobile
  14. Authenticity has a look… and it’s not highly produced
  15. Fan Development and Feverish Fan Development
  16. A little mobile can go a long way

Read the full post to get the content behind the headlines and make sure you bookmark the entire blog.

Personally, I found the topics ”Groups getting easier” and ”Personalization is prime” extra interesting. And ”Experience their experience” is my top-pick.

Manchester United recruits Yahoo boss to develop MUTV app

Manchester United seeks to roll out a subscription-based application that will allow its in-house television channel MUTV to be available worldwide. The man for the job is former Yahoo and Sony boss Phil Lynch

Phil Lynch have served as global head/vice-president of content and media partnerships at Yahoo, overseeing more than 3 500 content partnerships across all areas, as well as the company’s digital distribution efforts. He also have a background in Sony.

Recently, the English Premier League club confirmed that its new MUTV app will be available in 165 countries. The app will have a monthly subscription fee of app. $5.99 per month.

The MUTV app live streams 24 hours per day or on demand and features content such as live commentary and near live broadcasts of all matches, pre and post-match analysis by Manchester United legends, exclusive interviews with players and manager Jose Mourinho after each game, documentaries, historical matches and daily news and analysis.

It all reminds me of Olympic Channel by the IOC. The long trend back in time is certainly that more and more rights holders (ie. sport clubs, leagues and federations) want to distribute their content directly to the consumers – AND keep the TV money, that is.

How sports wear from recycled plastics can change opinions

Sustainability has gone from a buzz word to mainstream, and when Adidas now reveal its new swimwear products are they made from recycled ocean plastics.

The material of the swimwear comes from sophisticated stuff as fish creams and plastic wastes, including debris and used fishing nets, SportTechie reports.

But the swimwear isn’t the first collection with this theme. The design of trainers, which was last years news, was announced as part of a partnership between adidas and the organization ”Parley for the Oceans”.

Parley aims to end pollution of the world’s oceans through partnerships with some of the top fashion and beauty brands. Together, Adidas and Parley have also made soccer jerseys for Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

More and more consumer decisions are made with respect to the environment and considering how big influencers today’s athletes are, there are many (athletes and clubs) who want to take the chance to do good and drive public opinion on social issues. Partnerships and products like these are only the beginning.

eSports industry growth shows no signs of slowing down (BREAKING!)

As you might know by now, eSport is competitive video gaming played online or at a live event. And it’s taken not only Millennials focus, but also companies (sponsors) marketing budgets. But how and why?

The eSport industry’s extraordinary growth shows no signs of slowing down.

And maybe more interesting, we can see how traditional sports clubs are teaming up with eSport teams, such as Paris St-Germain, FC Schalke 04, Manchester City, Ajax and Valencia already done.

More recently, AS Roma and Fnatic started a partnership. The Fnatic organization will handle the day-to-day operation of the team and players in their combined FIFA team (FIFA the game that is…).

On the eSport theme, I would like to recommend this blog post by sports business wizard David Fowler.

David highlights, among other clever things, that the market research company Newzoo reported that more than three quarters of eSports fans claim that eSports viewing is taking away from their traditional sports viewing.

The eSport industry growth is certainly something that should bother traditional sports rights owners (leagues, federations, media houses etc.), as well as analogue agencies and consultants.

Another point of view I like a lot with the blog post is that David lists a number of challenges that exist for eSports (such as match-fixing, media/data rights and doping). Tune it in.

Buy in to the trend – and catch up China Sports Forum

”Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still” is a famous Chinese proverb. I actually have no idea of what it means, but I do know that if you don’t follow what is going on in Asia, you will ‘remain on the platform when the train goes’, as we say in Sweden.

China Sports Forum was arranged in November with three days of conference, content and networking – bringing together some of the biggest names in both Chinese and international sports industry. Here’s an excellent summary from Yutang Sport.

In December, Shanghai Shenhua bought striker Carlos Tevez from Boca Juniors for a reported $88.56 million dollars, making him the sport’s highest paid player in the world, with a reported salary of $753 000 per week.

In January, The International Olympic Committee and Alibaba Group announced a partnership through 2028. Alibaba will become the official “Cloud Services” and “E-Commerce Platform Services” Partner, as well as a Founding Partner of the Olympic Channel.

There is a tradition within marketing (and sports marketing) that North America is the leading part of the world. Trends starts and develops in the US and a couple of years later the rest of the world (read: Europe) finds them and adapts to local markets. But that’s the old view.

Nowadays, trends starts everywhere (including the US) through digitalization and then someone from China just buy what they want. (And then western brands on the Asian market follows, that’s what will happen 2017-2019.)

Again, I really hope that it’s a no-brainer for you that China’s sports industry is growing rapidly. Don’t be the one ”standing still”, my main follow-tip in the sector is Yutang Sports; news and opinions, Twitter and LinkedIn.

World Sports Review 2016 – a must-download report

There are a lots of reports out there, but if you want to read one (1) to keep you updated, I have to pick The Year in Sports Media from Nielsen for you. The report give you lots of commercial trends that shape the future, including the evolution of for example eSports.

The report digs deep in last years sports happenings; the Olympics, football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, golf, mixed martial arts, college sports, motorsport and boxing.

If you want a ”global snapshot” of a selection of the world’s leading sports in 2016, this is the download to do. You will get analysis of the major commercial events, trends and talking points from UEFA Euro 2016 to the Ryder Cup, Rio 2016 to the Pakistan Super League.

The report does not provide the deepest analysis, but you miss the simple good points without it. In short, if you claim to be serious in sports marketing or in the sports business field, you have to read it. 

Football team lets fans vote for plays

When the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles played their game last Thursday, all of the team’s offensive plays were voted on by fans using a smartphone app.

The team’s approach to tech-enabled touch could play a major role in for the future of sports and fan engagement. The experiment seems to have been a success in terms of fan enthusiasm, David Z. Morris write for Fortune.

Screaming Eagles fans actually rushed the field after the historic first touchdown made on a play they called.

The match attracted 150,000 viewers from 99 countries, mostly through a stream hosted on Facebook Live by Sports Illustrated. It’s a relatively small number compared to NFL, but a huge leap for tech-based fan engagement.

By the way, the Screaming Eagles lost the game. This time.

Calendar: Sports Business Conferences & Events 2017

Do you also wonder what sports business and sports marketing conferences that are up for grabs this year? Stop searching.

Conferences and seminars are good for three reasons:

  1. You update yourself with new insights, perspectives and knowledge (or you are confirmed that you already new everything worth to know).
  2. You connect with new (and known) people.
  3. The longer you travel, the more time you will get to complement your thoughts and everyday insights. It’s like vacation for your mind.

Thankfully for sports marketers, Sports Business Institute Barcelona, SportsBusiness Daily and Score and Change published some good (almost perfect) calendars to bookmark.

At this writing, I find goodies like IEG (Chicago), The Telegraph Business of Sport (London), Hashtag Sports (New York), Soccerex Global Convention (Manchester) and Sportel (Monaco) particularly interesting. To name a few.

Finally I want to remind you and myself to visit conferences with other topics than what you are interested in. Recently, I’ve been picking up some nice (macro) trends from Nordic Business Forum and TrendWatching London that has strengthen my sponsorship businesses. It’s all about connecting the dots.

Trends that will boost your fan engagement

Jakob Wikenstål have gathered some of the best inventions from past year that might boost (y)our success in 2017. I would like to pick out three of the six trends spotted.

The first one, ”Smart jersey”, with a case from Tampa Bay Lightning, is a combination between fan engagement and ticket marketing strategy. The NHL team introduced a replica jersey equipped with a radio frequency chip embedded in the sleeve. Fans can scan the chip (read: jersey) at stadium stores to receive discounts on refreshments and merchandise.

It sounds like an excellent way to connect with your fans and increase the visual event experience in the same time, doesn’t?

Well, the case is in fact from 2011 (!), and it’s interesting that the technology and theory behind it haven’t been a breakthrough yet. Preston McClellan wrote about it again in 2014 in the context of Ryder Cup. A lot has happened on the digitalization since 2011, but I guess this one is still up for grabs.

The second trend from Jakob that I would like to highlight is ”VR Sports Museums”.

There has been a lot of (good) stuff published on the broader topic, and I think you will find the big picture by reading Virtual Reality in Tourism (excellent blog, bookmark it!) and How Virtual Reality is Being Used in Museums. In short, if you managed to miss it, is that sports (and museums) are experiences, but what happens when you can get ‘the same’ experience with glasses…

Is VR a big threat to (live) sports? Yes, of course. But also a true win when you combine R and VR.

Last but not least, I think the revolution of the pick number three, ”Stadiums 2.0”, only just begun.

We might have a lot of top-modern sports and entertainment arenas all over the world, but just look at what is going on in the Out-Of-Home Advertising (OOH) Industry and you will soon find out that our stadiums will go from ”part-time white elephants” to digital, personalized experience spaces.

Digital signs are talking to me when I walk from the subway to the office. My dishwasher talks to me when I’m lazy at home (almost never happens though…). Why wouldn’t a stadium talk to me when my favorite team are about to play, just scored or when the queue to the hot dogs is too long?

It will happen. Gradually.

Hackathon strategy strengthens club’s digital development

Manchester City invites experts and students from the fields of technology, data, marketing, social media and digital product design to challenge each other and themselves in ”hackathons”. A great way to add new energy to areas constantly changing.

The Premier League club is bringing the challenge to the fans in order to discover how digital technology can help ”grow and further reinforce a sense of community and belonging that transcends location and provides a meaningful shared football fan experience for everyone”, to quote the initiative from its source: #HackManCity.

Ideas coming up at the hackathon can be anything from new digital features and content – to new digital products. The common factor is the that the hackers use the latest innovations and technologies, such as native app functionality, live video, wearables, VR/AR, artificial intelligence et cetera.

In this latest hackathon, the developers behind the ”Cityzen Band” and ”Buddy Up” was crowned joint champions – and both teams received £ 5 000 for their efforts.

Hackathon isn’t anything new as events, but there are still very few initiatives around the sports world. Although, some teams might start with traditional focus groups two open a dialogue with their custome… fans. Or fan surveys, or a Twitter survey, or just… do things the way they always done them…

Did NHL just won the last NBA ”Twitter war”?

NBA appeals to calmer tone on Twitter, meaning that official team social media accounts should take it easy with ”cyberbullying” other teams, players and officials in (by fans, popular) ”Twitter war”.

In short, the league stated in their updated Twitter guidelines that social media should be used for fun, not to reflect poorly on players, teams or the league as a whole.

The memo that were sent out by the NBA reminded teams what they weren’t able ”to do, citing belittlement of an individual opponent or official, mimicking opponents or officials in a negative manner, and criticizing NBA officiating”.

By the way, let’s just say that NHL took the opportunity.

Personally, I often found many of these digital ”fights” between official team accounts very enjoyable. It will be interesting to follow the NBA case and see how it will impact other leagues – and, if it’s possible at all, to control what editors and players tweet, without lowering fan engagement in the social channels.