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Global brand impact of the Tour de France: Is it worth the investment?

le tour de france 23 logoLast year was a rough for the Tour de France in terms of sponsorship. In the wake of the doping scandals, many sponsors sought ways to distance themselves from one of the world’s great sporting events. As a result, sponsorships could be had for as little as $1.5M. While that may seem like a heavy price tag, keep in mind that a 30-second Super Bowl spot averaged $4 million in 2013.

So, is $1.5 million a good way to spend your marketing budget? In short, it depends – on the segments you are targeting, the geographies that are important to you, and what you consider to be “a significant impact.” To help answer this question, I decided to do some social media analytics around the Tour and the current top three teams (through stage 17):  AG2R La Mondiale, Belkin, and Movistar.

There are a lot of ways to measure investment ROI through social media analysis, but I decided to look at brand mentions in the month before the Tour (June, 2013) versus the last seven days (July 17-23).  In addition to the overall global state of the company’s presence on social media, I also wanted to get some sense of the geographic changes in volume (remember, your target market is part of the “it depends” point). Visible Intelligence gives you a great geographic view of both volumes (figure 1 below) and sentiment (figure 2 below) that make it easy to see your hotspots.

Figure 1 – Post volumes for Movistar over the last 7 days


Figure 2 – Post sentiment for Belkin over the last 7 days


Another note on methodology for my social media analytics: I listened in on the period of June, 2014 for mentions around the brand only. For the last week (June 17-23), I listened for both the brand AND “Tour De France.” This gives us a feel for incremental brand mentions associated with the Tour versus the June, 2014 period – the one before the tour started.

Ultimately, I was trying to determine who got the biggest bang for the buck. Said another way, who got the largest increase over their baseline mentions that they can directly attribute to their Tour de France sponsorship? Here are the highlights of the analysis:

  • Movistar saw an increase from an average of 15 mentions per day in Australia in June to nearly 500 mentions per day in the last week. That is an increase of over 3,000%.
  • Belkin saw an increase from an average of 18 mentions per day in the UK in June to 30 per day over the last seven days. That is an increase of 62%.
  • AG2R/La Mondiale saw an increase from an average of 10 mentions per day in the USA in June to 47 per day over the last seven days. That is an increase of 370%.

Whether or not these increases in brand mentions are worth the sponsorship dollars is up to the companies to decide. As I said before, “it depends.” Based solely on the data analyzed, it appears that Movistar was the real winner.

Regardless, I hope that you found this quick analysis interesting.   As is usually the case, it leads to more questions, but we will save those for another day. Au Revior!

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