Background

The Tour de France (TDF) coverage on SBS in 2009 promised to be the biggest ever, with new levels of audience engagement created by brand-new features on sbs.com.au including live streaming of every stage.

This represented an ideal opportunity for relevant brands to capitalise on an increasingly engaged target audience.

RaboPlus has an ongoing relationship with SBS television, and is particularly connected to the Tour via its parent company Rabobank, which has a team competing in the Tour. This represented a brilliant synergy between the broadcaster and the brand.

RaboPlus became a major SBS sponsor of the Tour 09 via a multiplatform package that delivered advertising spots across television and online, including clever new online activations offering impressive opportunities.

Among them was ownership of SBS’s first-ever Fantasy TDF game, a newly developed online game that allowed visitors to connect deeply with the Tour by creating their own virtual team racing in the Tour.

A dedicated microsite, www.sbs.com.au/tdf, was built for the Tour, consisting of a comprehensive range of on-demand highlights, data, maps, news and blogs.

Objective

Via the RaboPlus brand integration across the SBS TDF microsite, RaboPlus could communicate with an audience that repeatedly accessed the website, leveraging maximum value from their investment.

RaboPlus’s objectives specifically for SBS online were to:

  • Increase traffic to corporate and campaign sites during the TDF
  • Increase acquisition of new customers and prospects via campaign promotions and offers
  • Engage and interact with audiences via special content, and
  • Increase awareness of the RaboPlus brand.

“With cycling continuing to grow in appeal, the TDF provides a great opportunity for RaboPlus to extend Rabobank’s association with the sport of cycling and strengthen the relationship between our brand and its stakeholders,” said Greg McAweeney, general manager of RaboPlus.

Strategy

The online component of the RaboPlus sponsorship package was to focus around interactivity with audiences, allowing RaboPlus to deliver via the SBS website relevant and detailed TDF data to information seekers.

SBS’s RaboPlus sponsored site included interactive content:

  • Daily updated standings board where interested audiences could visit for updated competition details
  • Interactive stand-alone site where audiences could check route riders, team information, past winners and stage maps
  • Blogs page with regular expert updates, and
  • World first Fantasy TDF competition

Fantasy TDF was to place participants in the position of team director, choosing the best riders from the real life Tour to score points for their team and get to the winning post first. Players’ team picks were rated on the real-life cyclist’s actual performances at each stage of the Tour proper. SBS commentator Mike Tomalaris entered a team, effectively meaning Fantasy Tour participants were competing against one of SBS’s experts.

Fantasy TDF served as the platform for RaboPlus’s target audience, the ‘alpha performers’, to demonstrate their knowledge of the event. It delivered RaboPlus branding to the highly engaged participants, spending an average of 8.5 minutes at a time on the game.

Execution

In June and July SBS drove viewers to register for the first ever Fantasy Tour via a five-second Fantasy on-air promo spot as the first activity for RaboPlus during the campaign.

Then to maintain engagement during the Tour SBS used social media, online pointers and two separate electronic direct mail (eDM) campaigns to target the TDF audience (Fantasy Tour and the SBS cycling microsite database).

RaboPlus also targeted its own customers to draw them back to the SBS campaign online.

The company engaged its existing opt-in database of customers and prospects via eDMs promoting the SBS RaboPlus Fantasy TDF, special RaboPlus Tour related offers and content on the RaboPlus website.

RaboPlus commissioned exclusive video and article content from the Rabobank team in Europe, which was also syndicated across SBS online.

Results

SBS’s TDF site broke all previous usage records. User sessions on the TDF site rose 68% on 2008, while page impressions more than doubled, from 2.5 million to 5.4 million.

SBS Online delivered 246,000 live TDF video streams at an average duration of 26 minutes each. Video views totalled 1.6 million, up 45% on 2008, delivering RaboPlus unparalleled reach to SBS’s huge online audiences.

The ‘Fantasy’ team competition itself attracted over 10,855 registrations and 690,000 page impressions over its almost four-week duration. It delivered a database of over 1300 opt-ins to RaboPlus that could be used for marketing purposes in future.

RaboPlus achieved an increased acquisition of new customers and prospects during the TDF promotion period.

While brand research is not yet available, anecdotal evidence supports the achievement of RaboPlus’s objective to increase brand awareness and the brand’s association with cycling.

“With each event and user interaction we learn more about how viewers want to access our content, and we continue to apply these insights to build an even better experience across all SBS platforms,” said Marshall Heald, head of online at SBS.