More and more French sports organizations are trying to intensify their internationalization strategies for African markets. It’s a move Samba Digital agency wants to support, thanks to its expertise developed in ten key markets across the continent. Lighting.
And what if the African continent represents the main source of growth for French professional football? Many decision makers in the industry are seriously considering this hypothesis, placing certain key African markets at the heart of their internationalization strategy. “Improving the international appeal of Ligue 1 Uber Eats is one of LFP’s priorities. Our goal is to increase the visibility of Ligue 1 Uber Eats among fans worldwide and in 4 priority regions, specifically the United States, Africa, the Middle East and China.” He is the International Development Director of the Professional Football League.
Words without effect. Every season, the Professional Football League organizes various events on the African continent, especially at key moments of the French championship, through the Ligue 1 Touch programme. In February 2021, LFP organized the first fan zone in Cameroon specifically, inviting over 800 people to Douala to watch the Olympique de Marseille v Olympique Lyonnais match on a giant screen. A similar operation was held in Abidjan on the occasion of the Paris Saint-Germain – Olympique de Marseille summit last April.
LFP is not the only player in French football to be closely involved with various African markets. Because of its strong historical, cultural and sporting ties – many African international footballers play or have played in the French league – many Ligue 1 clubs bring together large fan bases in the Maghreb and even in French-speaking African countries. Communities that clubs now want to stimulate more effectively, especially to unlock their commercial potential in these markets.
“At Olympique de Marseille, we primarily target the French-speaking Africa in our internationalization strategy. The club already has a very good image in many African countries. Several great players from targeted regions have made the club happy in the past. Let’s cite Didier Drogba or Mamadou Niang, for example. In addition, there is a social and cultural affinity between Marseille and French-speaking Africa as well as geographically. It is therefore natural for OM to highlight this region in its internationalization strategy”, confirmed Laurent Colette, Chief Operating Officer of Olympique de Marseille last May.
Faced with the growing interest in African markets, Samba Digital agency aims to support French professional football players in the implementation of internationalization strategies in such regions. Supporting the international expansion policy of many European clubs already in Latin America, the United States or Asia; In recent years Samba Digital has managed to bring together the necessary network and skills to help sports organizations develop their operations in many key markets in Africa.
“Speaking of Africa as a single market makes no sense as the continent is large and the lands are diverse. But today we can support clubs in the main markets of the Maghreb and French-speaking Africa. In English-speaking Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania “We have also recently established a solid PR and business network. In nearly ten African markets, we are now able to support clubs with community management missions, acquisition campaigns, linking with sponsors and even PR/influence campaigns,” explains Jean.-Philippe Dubois, Marketing Director, Samba Digital.
Efficient collaborations with OM and LFP
Samba Digital had the opportunity to showcase its expertise in African markets to many players in French professional football. For about a year and a half, the agency has been responsible for digital communications for Olympique de Marseille for several African countries, including Senegal, Cameroon and Ivory Coast. Three priorities were worked out: creation of geo-located content, organization of local activations with fan clubs in target countries, and organization of PR campaigns with local journalists and influencers.
“Ligue 1 clubs are increasingly being asked to create a specific content strategy for the various Arabic- and French-speaking markets on the African continent. French clubs already have large fan bases in the region,” says Jean-Philippe Dubois. A club like Olympique de Marseille is only in Algeria. “For more than 2 years, we have been working with LFP on a geo-located content strategy for specific African English-speaking markets. But this 2021-22 season we went even further by producing Ligue 1 content in local dialects,” continues Jean-Philippe Dubois. “We started using Samba Digital’s Sports Translation service in 2021 to enrich our content strategy for specific markets. We were then able to create an editorial strategy in 7 African dialects, including Fulani, Yoruba, Hausa, Dioula, Wolof, Swahili and Lingala. “Providing the closest possible content is at the heart of our development strategy,” says David Labrune, Head of International Media Rights for the Professional Football League. A fruitful strategy: Last season, LFP broadcasts reached more than 10 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa, with participation rates exceeding 15% in those regions!
Job opportunities to activate
Samba Digital can also work with sports organizations on more specific tasks, especially in the PR department. For example, the agency helped gain more media coverage for LFP’s two-part event held in Ivory Coast last March-April. In addition to the last classic PSG – OM – set up in the economic capital of Ivory – which brought together more than 2,000 people on this occasion – in addition to the “watch party” – LFP established a CSR operation in collaboration with Analog. Sports association. He then organized several workshops on the photography of sporting events at the Bingerville and La Maison du Potier orphanages. Strong media coverage thanks to the support of Samba Digital: more than ten leading Ivory national media covered the various actions taken by the LFP, including RTI, Inter and La Fraternité.
“During the watch party held in Abidjan, we also asked the Samba agency to develop an impact strategy. We then recruited a dozen local influencers. Posts and live streams posted before the event generated nearly 1.5 million views on social networks. Samba Digital’s strength is that it offers flexible and agile solutions. In just a few days, the agency can enable PR/digital plans in targeted markets,” explains David Labrune.
However, French professional clubs can quickly face stiff competition in various African markets. Indeed, other players in European football are looking at the continent’s enormous potential. “We have started serious discussions with several Premier League clubs to support them in these new markets,” says Jean-Philippe Dubois.
Revitalizing and activating communities in such markets can now represent non-negligible business challenges, particularly in terms of merchandising and sponsorship. “With the help of our partner Puma, we are increasing the number of OM jerseys and pieces sold in the various African countries targeted in our internationalization strategy,” explains Laurent Colette. Thanks to our support, we want to create new business opportunities for clubs as well. Many markets are currently gaining a lot of maturity in different African regions, especially with regard to betting and fintech in a broad sense. There are connections and market opportunities to seize. Today we can connect clubs and such players,” added Jean-Philippe Dubois. Opportunities also exist in terms of tourism, such as contracts signed between Rwanda and various European clubs including Arsenal FC and PSG, or between the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Agency and Liverpool FC. Is Africa the new Eldorado of European football?
This article was written by the editorial staff of Ecofoot as part of a partnership with Samba Digital. All the speakers in the article were interviewed by the Ecofoot teams.
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