In the Tour De France, the peloton (main group of riders) races through the streets of France at an average of 25 miles per hour. At speeds this fast, the cyclists can literally blow past anxiously waiting crowds in the blink of an eye. It is this aspect of le Tour that made me wonder why roughly 15 million people line the streets to watch this event every year? I would think that this sport would best be viewed from the comfort of your couch while cameras beam detailed footage of the entire race from the motorcade and hovering helicopters.
I recently learned that Tour De France organizers recognized a live viewership downfall and such, in 1930, created the Tour De France Publicity Caravan. Today, the Caravan is comprised of 160 brightly colored and decorated floats representing roughly 35 French National and International Brands. The Caravan precedes the actual bike race and can sometimes take, depending on terrain, up to an hour for the entire procession to pass awaiting spectators. Over the years, the elaborate parade has become a spectator sport in itself, as according to a survey conducted by the Tour last year, 39% of all live spectators who had travelled to view the race came first and foremost to see the Publicity Caravan.
Each company spends between $250,000 – $600,000USD, to have their brand be a part of the action. By my calculations, this means that for each dollar spent they gain access to up to 25 face-to-face spectators throughout the course of the race (15 million viewers total!). Furthermore, this equates to approximately 10 spectators on each stage who travelled specifically to see their representation. But the sponsorship value doesn’t end there in the Tour de France…
Once the race actually begins, for each stage roughly 750,000 live viewers and millions watching on TV, are exposed to a tantalizing race balance between sponsor exposure via team ownership and actual race strategy. In many instances, team race managers will instruct their cyclists to ride in breakaway groups for the sole purpose of increasing their sponsored team jerseys’ airtime on TV.
The Tour de France exemplifies how an organization or event can creatively encourage sponsor support by maximizing the value created for their dollars, while improving the overall event experience for both participants and spectators.
Have you or your company sponsored an event that uses this win-win value creation approach? How does your organization evaluate the events in which it chooses to support? Please share your examples.
- Courtney Swartz, Consultant