Decathlon and Danone, united by sport for young people

Decathlon - Danone
Decathlon - Danone

🇫🇷 French version

This is an amazing association between two brands: Decathlon United and Danone are joining forces for the first time in the service of youth during the Danone Nations Cup. Whether or not they were great athletes, we certainly met three great communicators with inspiring backgrounds: Xavier Rivoire, head of communication at Decathlon United, Nicolas Poillot, global brand marketing manager for Danone and Emmanuel Castiglioni, football communication leader for Kipsta (Decathlon brand). They did a few passes during a joint interview without ever being on the sidelines !

Hello to you 3 and welcome on! What is your vision of communication?

Nicolas (Danone) – Today, we are over-stimulated every day by digital technology and its uninterrupted flow of information. Our vision is to stand out by making concrete and proven statements that give meaning to our commitments. The Danone Nations Cup is a great way to speak out and catch the attention of our communities and beyond.

Emmanuel (Kipsta) – Communication is the ability to enter a simple and exclusive conversation with a person in the most personalized and authentic way possible, whether with the right media or the right tone. I am convinced that proximity and sincerity are essential in our exchanges to achieve a high level of complicity and trust. This is meaningful when the exchange is created with our customers, our members and even more so since the launch of the OneBlueTeam.

What is the Danone Nations Cup?

Nicolas (Danone) – For 20 years, the Danone Nations Cup has gathered 2 million children (girls and boys), between 10 and 12 years old, all over the world, around a football tournament every year. It is the largest mixed football competition dedicated to children. It is privileged to be represented by Ada Hegerberg, Carles Puyol and Zinedine Zidane. This year we brought together 27 countries, each with local, regional, national tournaments and finally the world final. And it’s a chance for the kids to represent their countries during the finals in Barcelona. This is an opportunity for Danone to express its vision through a meaningful tournament.

When you are 12 years old and have the chance to travel the world and meet young people from other continents and cultures, it is a life-changing moment! It shapes a different vision of the world and develops these young citizens. The Danone Nations Cup is then a beautiful embodiment of Danone’s mission: to bring health through food to as many people as possible, without forgetting that the health of people and the health of our planet are all intertwined. This tournament therefore promotes the need for good nutrition, the importance of sports, openness to others and the protection of the environment.

We can go faster and further together.

As for Decathlon, you mentionned the OneBlueTeam: what is it?

Xavier (Decathlon United) – Yes! As you know, Decathlon is booming on an international level, with a presence in nearly 250 cities in 55 countries. A few years ago, the Decathlon group was renamed « Decathlon United«  to reflect its ambition for unity. In external communication, we created #OneBlueTeam, which is a platform open to all. It is designed to facilitate communication with the media and opinion leaders.

Beyond our new locations, we want to speak out, through our teammates, to promote the DNA of our group, namely to make sport affordable to everyone and everywhere through technical products, affordable prices, adapted services and inclusive events. #OneBlueTeam‘s exciting vocation is to show that in addition to sport, we have a wealth of skills, cultures and challenges. And from there, meetings are born between our clients and our teammates all over the world. The objective here is to create a link between our audiences, by presenting Decathlon in all its authenticity… In its most beautiful form, its Women and Men but with our axes of progress.

Of all equipment manufacturers, why did you choose Decathlon United?

Nicolas (Danone) – We do not only have a common colour but also a common set of values. Decathlon United wants to improve access to sport for the maximum number of people and Danone wants to bring health through food to the greatest number of people. We converged very quickly.

This partnership of the two brands makes it possible to have a positive impact on children’s development, through sporting excellence, fair play and openness to others.

Emmanuel (Kipsta) – Nicolas is right. I don’t know of any other event that allows 11-year-olds to meet a Japanese, Tunisian, Brazilian or Senegalese child. They are the future and the citizens of tomorrow. This life experience is not only a sporting experience, it is an opening to the world.

A good partnership is one that allows both companies to be recognized in each other.

In concrete terms, how can two brands join forces to get the Company moving?

Xavier (Decathlon United) – Brands must get involved in the City, in each neighbourhood, with concrete actions, anchored regionally, thanks to local actors. For this commitment to have a real impact, we must be mutually supportive, « we », meaning all stakeholders. It is unthinkable to progress alone and impossible to think that we can change our ways of working without evolving ourselves. And we do not believe in the « global » and the « central ». On the contrary, we are putting all our efforts into ensuring that local entrepreneurs regain all their strength of action and proposal.

Nicolas (Danone) – Through powerful and committed brands, we can mobilize citizens and companies because everyone has a role to play in building a better future. With several of us, we can go faster and further, which is why the Danone Nations Cup aims to welcome new brands and partner companies.

Emmanuel (Kipsta) – We at Decathlon United and Danone are aware that we cannot resolve everything on our own. The more we engage, the more we will multiply the positive impact. The practice of sport, education for tomorrow’s world, encounters. Everything we organize with the Danone Nations Cup for children has an international and ultra-local impact, today and tomorrow.

Has the Danone Nations Cup strengthened the relations with your communities #OneBlueTeam?

Xavier (Decathlon United) – It was a great opportunity to invite clients, journalists, bloggers, and co-workers to attend the tournament’s final in Barcelona. We let them speak freely on social networks to share this adventure from within. As a result, they talked about the children and their joy, rather than about themselves and Decathlon. And this « social » aspect and these speeches make us rejoice more than anything else.

Emmanuel (Kipsta) – This operation has doubled the commitment on our company social networks. This is due to high-quality and exclusive content, a clear and defined editorial line with Danone in particular. We had a « micro-influence » approach by offering all the people in the group to share their experience naturally with their subscribers. Then the brand relayed and enhanced their content.

Proximity and sincerity are essential in our interactions to reach a high level of complicity and trust.

How does institutional communication tale over a sponsorship campaign?

Xavier (Decathlon United) – The Danone Nations Cup is a great event because it is meaningful. The behaviour of young players, on and off the pitch, is proof of this: inclusive, sharing, respectful of others in all their dimensions. Secondly, communication only highlights the skills of companies that make sport a vehicle for union and communion. This is exactly what Danone has been doing for two decades with this tournament. We, at Decathlon United’s external communication, only give a voice and stage those who « do ». Namely the Kipsta teams who design the best products, and especially these beautiful children involved in the tournament.

Finally, we do not have specific « targets ». Isn’t that an awful marketing term? On the other hand, we have users who are passionate and exciting, regardless of their level of knowledge of the game. And juniors are as athletic as adults. They deserve the same attention, both in the quality of the products offered – comfort, safety – and in accessibility via prices that are always reasonable for us.

What is the key to a successful international partnership?

Xavier (Decathlon United) – The right partnership is first and foremost one that serves the participants in the sporting event. In Barcelona, when we saw the faces of 700 children when they received their complete Kipsta outfits to play football. I assure you that at this point you understand the mission of our company and the importance of partnership. A young player receiving a jersey, shorts, socks – and this in several copies since two regular outfits are required for the final phases of the competition – then tells you « Gracias » with a big smile, it is the most beautiful reward for a communicator!

The right partnership is also the one that allows the two companies to recognize each other, to add strengths and skills and to combine wills. It is not a question of taking advantage of the Danone Nations Cup to launch great speeches but of showing, at the local level and daily, that we are useful.

And finally, since you have reached a high standard, can you tell us what your next challenge is?

Nicolas (Danone) – Our aim is to make the Danone Nations Cup experience reachable for more children all over the world. One way to do this is to allow young girls to participate in all the countries where we are organising this tournament. This will have to be tangible by having a record number of countries represented with a women’s team at the 2020 World Final in Indonesia.

Xavier (Decathlon United) – We will continue to promote the incredible value of the #OneBlueTeam : 90,103 teammates who work for sport for all. We want to make the pleasure and benefits of sports accessible to as many people as possible.

3 things to know about our communicators  

  • > Xavier is the biographer of Arsène Wenger, Robert Pires and David Beckham
  • >Nicolas always gets up for Danette
  • >Emmanuel’s mantra is: « Communication is easy, it’s all is about conversation and relations »
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