A new brand eldorado? Sport has become an indispensable element in terms of communication in recent years. The values conveyed by sports, which are unifying, virtuous, fun and open to everyone, make it possible to bring people together while differentiating them, regardless of their fields of activity. How to use it wisely and make it an interesting topic for brands and profitable for customers?
ibis budget has placed an innovative concept at the heart of its strategy: Smart Sport. A simple and fun way to turn routine and everyday objects into many exercise opportunities: squatting while washing dishes, turning your daily journey into a gym, using your furniture to build muscle. At the same time, ibis customers budget can benefit from Decathlon sports kits free of charge for a sports activity. Throughout 2021, Smart Sport sessions were also provided free of charge by professional trainers.
How can sports create value for brands? We interviewed two leaders in their markets to understand the keys to the success of strong co-branding.
What are the keys to successful co-branding?
Antoine Dubois, Accor Southern Europe Director of Marketing and Customer Experience : Above all, there is a human will: Our teams at ibis budget and Decathlon, which are part of two separate industries, wanted to get even closer.
Beyond that, the first thing we look at when we want to co-brand is the sharing of values. Each of us has marketing goals in our universes and suddenly there is a shared values around democratization. On the one hand, democratization of the hotel industry with ibis budget and Decathlon’s desire to encourage all French people to exercise. This is what makes the co-branding debatable and successful.
On the other hand, there is complementarity in terms of sectors, our offerings and customer needs. We can have co-brands that are successful in terms of communication, but not in terms of customer needs. Sport in this case is a need and passion for our respective customers, which allows us to be complementary in the offer. It is an important element of success.
The third point is the unexpected side. The partner brand should surprise. If it’s too obvious, it won’t be able to impose itself. We are in two very different universes a priori, and it amazes people to relate them.
Erwan Soquet, Decathlon’s France communications leader: Taking it to places where sports are not available is one of our missions. Everyone knows that sport is a virtuous activity, but how to take sport everywhere, to all the French? This was one of the goals of this project.
Karine Wisel, Communications Manager, Decathlon France : Our commitment is to take sport where it usually isn’t and where people are. When this Smart Sports project was presented to us, we found it to be very compatible with our strategy. However, to answer the question for a successful co-branding, it must be done with the right organization around a joint project and good joint communication. All these elements came together during our partnership with ibis. budget.
What if you had to define this shared value sharing?
Anthony Dubois: There are three key values. The first is accessibility: making the hotel industry on the one hand and sports accessible to as many people as possible. The other two values are the economical and fun character of the two brands. Also, the “intelligent” nature of the two brands allowed us to combine them while maintaining the necessary consistency.
Erwan Socket: Generosity is also part of our corporate values and it was important to highlight this during this co-branding. A brand never stops being talked about, but we strongly believe in sharing, in the fact that we are better together. Brands often like to go it alone and we thought it was important to do something together as you can get better together.
How did the convergence around this Smart Sport idea come about?
Antoine Dubois : had it on ibis budget, already placed elements around the sport. However, we have not been able to find a truly relevant device for sports activities. We transformed the customer journey by integrating Smart Sport trainings into various areas, then went further with Decathlon by offering our customers free sports accessories from 2020.
Recognizing that there is real demand and that added value to customers’ stays, we decided to deepen the experience with the Decathlon teams.
How is sport an interesting activation area for brands?
Erwan Socket : At Decathlon, we believe that sport makes the world a better place. It is not a matter of pride, because we believe that sport has taken on another dimension today. It has become a value in itself.
Regardless of the subject, the field of activity, we can manage to solve the problems with sports. By encouraging young people who feel bad about themselves to do sports, we help them gain self-confidence. We make a job much more fun by organizing sports events to clean natural areas. Thanks to sports, we can establish social bonds and exchange people.
There are many reasons why sport is universal, open to all sectors, because it has benefits beyond that. It is a tool to access other things.
Antoine Dubois : It’s often said that music brings people together, and it’s true. I think these are sports federations. We do things together while exercising. It is this unifying aspect that matters.
Erwan Socket : It is very interesting that he is doing it. Sport is one of the rare activities that we do together, which occupies both our soul and body.
Karine Wisel : Once upon a time, big brands sponsored only elite sports. Today, however, we see them getting closer and closer to this social and societal commitment. It also shows that brands are not only there to consume people, but also to bring people in.
Erwan Socket : Sport is an almost universal foundation, as well as an endless field of discovery and innovation. Inventing new ways of doing sports, new experiences, unlimited space for brands. Sport can be done in many ways, and we haven’t invented all the ways to get there yet.