Uber Eats Meets Olympique Marseille: New Brands Take Over Football Sponsorships

Uber Eats is Uber’s relatively young food delivery app. Yet it will be the main sponsor for Olympique Marseille and for the Ligue 1 pretty soon, too. Is a change in the sponsorship landscape about to begin?

Jägermeister were the first shirt sponsors in Germany, in England betting companies are prevalent and big car manufacturers or airlines are emblazoned on dozens of kits in different leagues across the world. But as the world gets digitised more and more every day, new companies and brands have started to reign in global economies. That is bound to entail a change of sponsors in the football ecosystem, too, which is slowly being more apparent. And it’s nowhere better to be observed than in the Ligue 1 and at Olympique Marseille as Uber Eats is taking over.

Uber Eats offer the money

Right now, the Ligue 1 is officially called the Conforama Ligue 1 and Olympique Marseille had, for a long time, telecommunications company Orange as their shirt sponsor. That is going to change with Marseille sporting the logo of Uber Eats on their kits from the 2019/2020 season on and the Ligue 1 being rebranded as the Uber Eats Ligue 1 from 2020. This investment from Uber’s subsidiary is marking a change in sponsorship in the football ecosystem.

Orange had been one of many telecommunication companies that sponsor teams. They were reportedly paying OL two million Euro per season. That’s according to SportsPro Media. But Uber Eats will put 50 per cent on top of that to make it three million.

While Orange is by no means a yesterday’s company, the emergence of powerful digital players is there to see in the sports sponsorhips now more than ever.

Uber Eats has a lot in common with OM, including its clear digital orientation, a permanent innovation and the desire to communicate with a young audience. We hope this is the beginning of a long and exciting adventure,

said Jacques-Henri Eyraud, president and executive board member at OL. Young audiences might be more interested in Uber or Uber Eats than in brick and mortar stores. The Ligue 1 has been named after Conforama, one of Europe’s biggest home furnishing retail chains, for years. And those naming rights were worth around 10 million Euro per season. But reports emerged, mainly in the French publication Le Courrier du meuble et de L’Habitat, that say Conforama will close 32 stores in France and cut 1,900 jobs. Even though the company and the group behind it are still massive, operators from the digital era are dipping into the sponsorship market, for they have money to spend. Li Figaro reports that Uber Eats will pay 32 million Euro for two years. In an official statement,Didier Quillot, Executive Director of the LFP, said:

This major agreement reflects the new dimension taken by Ligue 1. We are very proud to be able to count on the support of Uber Eats, a major global brand, to support the development of the French championship. From next season, Uber Eats will be present within the league’s sponsorship material; there are some surprises and offers to come along with this. From 2020/2021, the title partnership agreement will represent a major agreement. After its partnership agreements with major US sports franchises, we are very proud that Uber Eats has chosen Ligue 1 as its first European sport partnership with the aim of supporting its development and expansion. We are also particularly pleased to be able to associate Ligue 1 with a very strong brand among young consumers.

Where does Uber Eats get the money and why do they invest in football?

Uber as a mainly digitally grown company is not the first to invest in European football. Rakuten from Japan, one of the ten biggest internet companies, has partnered with the FC Barcelona to feature on their kits, paying them 220 million Euro for four seasons.

Rakuten also sponsor Vissel Kobe in Japan, for instance. And while everyone seems to know Uber, Uber Eats is still more of an unknown entity in Europe. The food delivery platform with its popular app is about to generate at least one billion US dollar in revenue this year, according to Forbes. From this year on, they will collaborate with Uber Elevate, a service to deliver food from the users’ favourite restaurant via drones. Uber Eats is easy to handle for the customer, you can search the app for meals, restaurants, kitchen types or anything like that you favour and just order it. Then you can see how long it will take until it will be at the chosen address and you will see what fare you have to pay for delivery – those are now varying between two and eight US dollars, dependant on distance. Users are even able to track the delivery in real time.

The Uber Eats app in the Google Play Store, © Uber Eats

You don’t have to think too hard to see the connection between a food delivery service in a digitised landscape and their craved viewability in a market, where the service isn’t yet known to everyone, a market like the French football ecosystem. For people tend to watch games in a digital environment as well, if they’re not in the stadium. And Uber Eats actually does know how to capture an audience. Because their YouTube channel has more than 111,000 followers and offers funny videos with sports stars that promote their brand and service alike.

Not the first wave of tech companies as sponsors

In the 90s and the early 2000s, a lot of tech companies sponsored big clubs when those companies were at the pinnacle. Remember Sharp on Manchester United’s chest or JVC sponsoring Arsenal?

What about Samsung being Chelsea’s main sponsor? Libertá Digitale was on Juve’s kit when Zidane was still there and back in the 80s Commodore was clear to see when Bayern Munich entered the field.

Tech companies were apparent in football before. But now, it seems, it’s the time of the digital players and popular apps looking to use the reach of European football to grow their services and user numbers and therefore eventually brand awareness and revenue. The big guns – Google, Facebook, Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Snapchat, TikTok and what have you – haven’t appeared yet, they don’t have to. But don’t be surprised if you see more digital platforms, e-commerce companies or app holders being made sponsor of clubs and getting printed on the kits or even being put just in front of the league’s name. Just like the Uber Eats Ligue 1; sounds as strange as the odd stadium name, but better get used to it.

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