Tour de France organiser ASO is searching for a new backer for the green-jersey points competition following PMU's decision to end its 25-year relationship with the race. The French betting company told ASO of its plan prior to the start of this year's race. No replacement sponsor has yet been announced.
PMU's sponsorship of the points competition began in 1991. It was an ideal marriage. The jersey denoting the points leader has been green since its first appearance in 1953 and PMU's brand colours are the same colour. Over the last quarter of a century, the big green PMU hands have become one of the race mementos most prized by race fans. PMU's vehicles in the Tour's publicity caravan have been just as hard to miss, with their roof-borne galloping horses promoting what was the brand's principal source of betting revenue.
"Over the past 25 years we’'ve benefited from the Tour de France's great visibility," PMU communications' director Benoît Cornu told L'Équipe. Cornu explained how the 2010 law that opened up online betting in France has changed the company's strategy and focus, resulting in more emphasis being placed on football with its backing of the French Cup, the French football federation and Paris St Germain, one of country's leading clubs.
"The Tour lasts for three weeks a year," said Cornu. "In 2010 we chose to back football because we needed a higher profile and to modernise PMU."
According to Laurent Lachaux, ASO's commercial and partnerships' director, the company is looking for another long-term partner to replace PMU. "We're not getting too carried away with this because our vision is for the long term," said Lachaux, who added that studies have shown that the publicity return on the green jersey is 10 to 12 times bigger than the €1.5million cost of sponsoring it.
Lachaux described the ideal new sponsor being "a great French company that wants to raise its international profile or a foreign company that wants to boost its image thanks to the Tour."
ASO is offering companies interested the additional lure of their brand being promoted at other races in their portfolio.