Orange explains why Euro 2016 sponsorship is still worth it — despite recent soccer scandals

Orange wants to focus on the fans at Euro 2016, rather than the players. Orange

France-based mobile carrier Orange announced is Euro 2016 sponsorship plans on Thursday — and this year it’s going to be all about the fans.

As the official telecoms provider of the summer tournament, which takes place in France, Orange will be providing the communications infrastructure on the ground, offering themed data and roaming packages for customers, and tickets to competition winners — as it did for Euro 2012.

But in a pivot from its strategy at the last Euros, this year Orange wants to focus on football fans rather than players (although France football legend Zinédine Zidane will star in its advertising.)

Orange has secured rights to light up the Eiffel Tower in Paris in teams’ colours on the evening of each match day, as voted by fans on social media.

Additionally, in a take on the “man of the match” during soccer games, Orange will be picking out the “fan of the match,” who will be picked out from the stands to win prizes.

Like previous years,  Orange will also be sponsoring the “Fan Zones” that will be set up in Lyon, Paris, Lille, Marseilles, Bordeaux, and Toulouse. 

Donna Soane, head of global sponsorships and partnerships at Orange, said Euro 2012 “drove value to us as a business and a brand,” so it made sense to continue its sponsorship in its home territory. She could not immediately provide details on the business and brand value uplift.

With Euro 2016, one performance indicator will be that its sponsorship activation lasts longer “than just a one-time intervention.”

Soane added: “Our key indicator of success is to look beyond Europe and how we take this [focusing on the fans] strategy forward as an engagement over a long-term period. It’s about building a legacy approach.”

World football has been dragged through the gutter in recent months amidst FIFA’s corruption scandal.

UEFA, the governing body organising the Euro 2016, has also been implicated in the investigation — its headquarters were raided by Swiss police earlier this month to seize details of a TV rights contract signed by former UEFA director of legal services, now FIFA president, Gianni Infantino. Last year, FIFA’s new ethics committee banned former UEFA president Michel Platini from all football for eight years, relating to a payment made to him from FIFA in 2011.

When details about the arrests of several FIFA officials on racketeering and corruption charges first emerged in May last year, World Cup sponsors were quick to warn football’s governing body that they could jump ship if it didn’t move quickly to clean up its act.

We asked for Orange’s position.

Soane said:

“At the end of the day, football is still the world’s number one passion. I think we can’t forget that … We do trust that UEFA are addressing and going through the right process to manage any ongoing issues … We are aware of what is going on but this is really around focusing on consumer and delivering to them as a partner and a communication services provider, providing those services to be able to make sure they get the best out of the tournament that they possibly can.”

Euro 2016 kicks off on June 10.

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