Tour De France, tour de force.

You may not be a Tour De France fanatic, but I bet you can guess what colour jersey the winner wears?

Take a second…

You got it, right? Yup – it’s Yellow! Or Le Maillot Jaune, in French.

But what if I told you it hasn’t always been this way?

120 years ago in the first ever Tour of 1903, the winning rider, Maurice Garin, wore a green armband to signify his place at the top of the pile.

It wasn’t until 16 years later, in 1919, that Eugène Christophe became the first rider to wear the yellow jersey.

In the first post-WWI race, Henri Desgrange a newspaper publisher and the actual creator of the Tour de France (and by now race Director), wanted a way to make the race leader stand out more to both riders and spectators alike.

Out went the green armband… and so began one of the earliest sponsorship activations in the world – with his paper L’Auto, then printed on yellow paper, inspiring the colour of the leader’s jersey.

This tradition has remained ever since, and Le Tour remains a great place to look to for clever sponsorship activations. Teams are all named after their sponsors and it remains an incredibly strong way to put a brand front and centre to a global audience (Forget the World Cup, the Tour is bigger!).

But while billions are spent by brands sponsoring sporting events, so many of them are happy to let the billboard, the jersey or the photoshoot do the work.

I’ve always felt a creative and unusual activation is necessary to back up basic sponsorship spend – and it’s time we move on from the ‘spoken word’ slow-mo stories that seem to have become a first stop for many over the past decade and a half.

People are tiring of overly saccharine creations, and demand something more authentic, something that *really* conveys what the magic of ‘their’ event is all about – something they can relate to as fans.

Step up Škoda Auto, a brand that’s celebrating 20 years of sponsorship in the Tour De France. With agency Fallon, they decided that if they could not take british cyclists to the Tour de France, they’d bring the excitement of Le Tour to a popular Sunday cycle route in the UK – giving these everyday cyclists the thrill of the peloton.

They dressed the last segment of the route to look exactly like a Tour stage, with the Race Director’s iconic red Škoda Enyaq, French road signs, the infamous Tour de France devil superfan Didi, rowdy fans and messages of support chalked on the road.

There was even an official finish line and podium, with post-race interviews!

This was all done to celebrate Škoda’s 20 years involvement, and it was built as social-first content. It will run alongside sponsorship idents on ITV (for both Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes) and it gets the #KingOfActivations jersey for me.

Maybe the next time you’re thinking of putting a name on a Jersey – think of the yellow one, and how it’s important to always think one step beyond. Putting money into Sponsorship is a fool’s errand, unless time and creativity is put into taking the activation to that next level.

Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh is a Senior Account Manager at Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing and PR agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, IrelandWe help businesses with their brand development, creative advertising & sponsorship activations.

Share the News:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis ultricies nec