The Tour de France is causing mixed feelings these weeks. This even applies to the sponsors. “We had to reduce our marketing budget this year. The direct payments to the organizer ASO remained at the agreed amount, but overall we are using fewer funds, ”says Adrien Eymard, Head of Marketing at Continental’s Paris headquarters. The tire manufacturer is still very present at this year’s tour. All gates that indicate the increasingly shorter distance to the goal from the 20-kilometer mark are adorned with the company’s logo. The stage winner ceremony is also held. “So we have a good visual presence, especially in the TV broadcasts,” says Eymard.
In the advertising caravan, which this year again drives the route a few hours in front of the professional cyclists and distributes small gifts to the spectators, the company only has half the vehicles: three instead of six last year. “The distribution of gifts is also restricted,” says Eymard. That fits into the overall picture. Instead of the 160 vehicles last year, the advertising caravan now only has around 100 vehicles. Why it takes place at all with the far fewer fans on the track can almost only be explained with contracts signed very early on.
Eymard accompanies the tour every day. He always takes a position at the sponsor’s stand in the starting village and receives customers and business partners. “Here, too, there are fewer than in previous years, but we are continuing these activities.” For sponsors, the Tour de France is above all a tour to endure. You want to be there to survive the dry spell. And ideas are developed to somehow make the stay more attractive for business partners. Actually, the attraction for VIP is to be close to the cycling stars. But that’s impossible this year. At AG2R, the sponsor of the team of the same name, they came up with the idea of setting up a camera in front of the team bus, in front of which team boss Vincent Lavenu sets up once a day and addresses a few words to the noble fans.
The need of the hour is to come to terms with the circumstances. And be happy about every positive aspect. “There are definitely fewer people along the way. But now more people are watching the race on TV, ”says Marketing Director Eymard. An average of 3.18 million French people now watch the Tour de France on their screens. In the first mountain stages it was even 4.6 million. And because the government has now also ordered the mountain passes to be blocked for all fans due to the dramatic rise in corona numbers, this number is likely to rise even further. Seen in this way, business is going on. As long as the Tour de France is rolling and the television is broadcasting, the advertising partners are also satisfied.
Eymard assumes that the tour will make it to Paris. “If things turn out differently, we will adapt to the circumstances,” says Adrien Eymard dryly. His company wants to fulfill the sponsorship contract with the ASO, which runs until 2022, he says. But the plans do not go any further. First of all, everyone just wants to get to Paris somehow.