Orange’s Head of Global Sponsorships says she trusts crisis-hit Uefa as the company unveiled its strategy for the Euro 2016 football championships.
The France-based operator is one of 10 official sponsors of the event, which kicks off in June.
Organisers Uefa, European football’s governing body, have courted controversy since President Michel Platini was implicated in the scandal that has brought Fifa, the arbiter of world football, to its knees.
Platini was banned from football for eight years after being found guilty of a conflict of interest and dereliction of duty over a “disloyal payment” from Fifa President Sepp Blatter.
He is currently appealing the decision, despite the ban being reduced to six years in February. Platini maintains his innocence.
Donna Soane, Head of Global Sponsorships and Partnerships at Orange, says: “Obviously we are aware of this and it is something we need to be aware of.
“We trust Uefa to manage what they need to manage...at the end of the day Orange is official telco partner.”
She says there have been no discussions about pulling out as a sponsor since Platini’s ban.
But when asked whether she has any concerns about the Orange brand being negatively affected by association, Soane avoids the question.
She says: “Consumers enjoy the football and we’re there to help them engage with it so that’s our focus.”
Indeed, the Uefa question takes away from what is Orange’s biggest ever sponsorship campaign.
Soane will not disclose how much the company is investing in its Orange Sponsors You campaign, but points out that it is global and touches all of the countries in which it has operations.
She claims 65 percent of its customer base is “interested” in football and that Orange is determined to try to “create a conversation” with them.
To do this, it is turning the spotlight on the fans and plans to “reward” them with tickets, VIP experiences and a range of telecoms offers from special data bundles to roaming.
Soane says specific details on those offers will be disclosed in due course, but Orange has revealed that some of its opcos will offer free mobile data with goals scored in specific matches or free movie downloads when specific teams win.
“It’s an opportunity to engage with consumers and develop the relationship in terms of connecting with what’s important to them,” she explains. “It’s not just a badging exercise.”
There will be “a lot of focus” on social and digital channels, Soane adds.
The centrepiece is the website www.OrangeSponsorsYou.com, which features a 360 degree film.
This is backed by a global TV campaign featuring former French international Zinedine Zidane, while the Eiffel Tower will be at the mercy of the campaign’s hastag #OrangeSponsorsYou.
Not content with focusing on the event itself, Soane says the sponsorship strategy contains a commitment to create a “legacy” that lasts beyond the final ball being kicked.
“The whole premise is finding out what’s relevant to [consumers]… we want our customers to feel closer to the brand,” she explains.
Soane says the biggest challenge is trying to deliver “a coherent strategy” that consumers understand across Orange’s global footprint.
With football taking up 30 percent of Orange’s total sponsorship investments, the operator will hope there are no unwanted scandals during the event that could derail the plan.