Digital activation at the heart of the free care strategy

In terms of activating partnerships on digital channels, Free is undoubtedly the best example in French professional football. Having acquired the rights to broadcast almost the best moments live and summaries of L1 matches for the period 2020-24; Free launched an ambitious sponsorship policy from March 2021, which led the operator to enter into partnerships with 13 premier clubs during the 2021-22 season, with the main objective of promoting the Free League .1 application on social media. During an interview with, Micael Pereira and Nicolas Noel, respectively the Communications, Marketing and Community Manager of Free Ligue 1, discussed the strategy deployed by the phone operator to make its place in the French professional football ecosystem.

Why has Free embarked on a partnership strategy with Ligue 1 clubs in addition to the broadcast rights acquired by LFP for the 2020-24 period?

During the first part of the 2020-21 season, we noticed a lack of popularity regarding the Free Ligue 1 app. In addition, many fans believed that the app was for free subscribers. These difficulties are related to our situation: Al Hurr is a new player in the world of sports, especially football. In the past, we have not invested in sponsorship or television rights to the Six Round Ball unlike some of our competitors such as Orange or SFR. This first year of rights abuse has also been disrupted by the economic uncertainties associated with the Covid-19 crisis and the precipitous departure of Mediapro. This hasn’t helped us with the media coverage of Free Ligue 1.

Faced with this lack of popularity, we felt the need to publish more about our Free Ligue 1 app to promote it in the French football ecosystem. With this partnership strategy, we want to speak directly to our fan communities as we strive to better introduce ourselves to the Clubs. Then we signed our first agreement with the Stade de Reims in March 2021. In addition to the digital rights, we also had a viewing area on the back of the official Rémois jersey for the second part of the 2020-21 season. Then we immediately came to an agreement with OGC Nice, RC Lens and Stade Rennais.

These first partnerships signed during the second half of the 2020-21 season allowed us to test our new approach to sponsorship. Then we designed very simple digital activations to promote and download our app to fan communities in our sponsored clubs. In the face of the good results obtained, we have decided to intensify our sponsorship strategy for the 2021-22 season by sponsoring more Ligue 1 clubs.

How did you choose the first clubs you cooperated with?

The Stade de Reims is the first club with which we have signed a sponsorship agreement. There are many connections between Club Frei and Club Reims. Stade de Reims posts an offbeat social media strategy that fits so well in our DNA. We don’t want to systematically talk about Ligue 1 in a traditional way. We want to adopt an offbeat tone that differs from the way we approach traditional media. A philosophy that sticks to the communication strategy of the Stade de Reims. The club handles humor well in its statements on social networks by filming sketches that often cause a stir! Stade de Reims realized that football remains primarily a form of entertainment. In addition, the club provides easy access to its players and facilities. There was also a chance to grab it in terms of the sponsorship space on the back of the jersey at 2e Part of the 2020-21 season. All these elements prompted us to sign this first agreement with the Stade de Reims.

“We don’t want to talk systematically about Ligue 1 in a traditional way. We want to adopt a quirky tone that is different from how we deal with traditional media”

After concluding that first contract, many clubs knocked on our door. And soon we signed a contract with OGC Nice. The club has high ambitions thanks to its new contributor and is doing particularly well on issues related to digital. It made our decision easier. In the same way, we also chose to collaborate with RC Lens and Stade Rennais.

Free significantly increased its sponsorship strategy during the just-ended 2021-22 season. In addition to the four clubs mentioned above, it has agreements with AS Monaco, FC Nantes, MHSC, Angers SCO, FC Lorient, ASSE, FC Metz, Girondins de Bordeaux and Clermont Foot. On what criteria did you choose the different clubs?

Digital activation at the heart of the free care strategy

Leave a Comment