Uefa Euro 2016 will mark the fifth major international football competition to be hosted by France and at a time when football is riddled with corruption scandals, Orange's sponsorship focuses on what really matters in sport - the fans.
Rather than build its campaign around the promising looking French national team or governing body Uefa, the telecommunications firm wants to resonate more closely with 12 million plus fans whose emotional commitment to their teams will frame the tournament's most memorable moments. It might sound like a logical move, but it's only in recent years that sponsors like Orange have started activated with this mindset.
For Orange 30 per cent of its sponsorship expenses are spent on football, so its commitment to the fans is unwavering, especially when a tournament takes place in their native France.
The ‘Orange Sponsors You’ campaign aims to celebrate the fans and will be delivered through two iconic symbols of France. The first is World Cup 98’ winner and French footballing legend Zinédine Zidane who fronts the campaign.
The Real Madrid manager will feature in a global ad campaign, which will scour the globe to help Orange find the world’s biggest fans. The ad launches next month (28 May) across 28 countries and has been shot with a fully immersive 360 degree film. Zidane will recruit over 20 of the the ultimate fans and bring them on a trip to watch the final at the Stade de France in Paris.
The second pillar of the campaign revolves around the most iconic symbol of the nation - the Eiffel Tower. Orange has exclusive Euro 2016 access to the landmark and has promised it will “play a major role” in showing its commitment to fans. The brand has only teased how the landmark will feature in the campaign, though it has revealed that fans using the #OrangeSponsorsYou hashtag will influence how France’s iconic symbol plays its part in the celebrations.
Sponsorship is becoming an increasingly risky business. Doping and corruption scandals are making weekly headlines and sponsors are taking greater care to put in place robust countermeasures. But while reputation management needs to be taken seriously amid such pressures, ultimately it’s the fans they want to win over.
Speaking at the Orange Euro 2016 press conference, Orange chief executive, Stéphane Richard, said: “Sport, and football in particular, is a passion shared by many of our customers all over the world and we have a long history in football sponsorship.
“With this tournament being held in France and Orange being a French company, there was no question that we would be involved.”
Continuing the fan focus of the campaign, Orange will also have a ‘Fan of the Match’ competition at each of the matches. Mirroring the concept behind ‘Man of the Match’, the competition will select one fan that has stood out most from the crowd and will reward them with match tickets.
Ticket giveaways - a staple of most sponsorship activations now - will also play an integral role in Orange's sponsorship. It has promised to give away 3,000, while Coca-Cola, another major Euros sponsor, has pledged to give away 2,000 tickets.
As a French company Orange will feel an increased weight of responsibility to portray, not only its business but the whole of France, as a technological pioneer.
To achieve this end, the telecoms giant has laid out all the stocks for the upcoming tournament to ensure its presence reaches far beyond the ten host cities and the technology laden fan zones.
Part of its investment for the Euro 2016 will install fibre optic cables throughout France so it can offer 4G internet and Wi-Fi at the stadiums and fan zones.
The cables will be instrumental in the delivery of the tournament itself and with 2 billion people expected to be watching “nothing can be left to chance”, warned the business. Consequently, some 2 billion football fans worldwide will be able to watch the games, with more than 100,000 km of fibre optic cable laid out - enough to wrap around the world twice.
More than 800 staff and 200 engineers will be on hand to oversee the delivery of Orange's WI-FI and 4G offerings to ensure the smooth running of the operation.
Béatrice Mandine, executive vice president for brand and communications, promised that Euro 2016 would be “the most connected tournament in history".
Addressing the fans Mandine said: “We will turn the spotlight on you and celebrate your passion. You are the real stars of Euro 2016”.