PARIS – The rugby team in Toulouse, the Stade Toulousain, is the first French sports team to include Microsoft scan tags on their official merchandise. The Microsoft (MS) tag, designed to enhance interactivity between companies and their consumers, is the first innovation of its kind used in French clothing.
Toulouse, in the southwest of France, has one of Europe’s best rugby teams, with more championship wins than any other team. With a budget this year of 33 million euros, over six million euros were generated by merchandising, showing that the club is a powerful selling brand. The innovation is a strategic step to further develop the club’s economic success by interacting directly with their fan base.
By using the tags, the French team is bringing together technology, fashion, and sports in a whole new way. New York-based designer Rachel Roy has already used the tags on designs created for Macy’s, and fashion magazines from Condé Nast have used them in their magazines.
The introduction of the tech-fashion fusion in French sports, however, is a first. Antoine Ormières is a project director at the “smart clothing” company Cityzen who partnered with web firm DotVision on the rugby apparel. Together they used Microsoft's technology to create the the clothing under the brand Scan I Like. Ormières told SmartPlanet that the MS tags are still rare in France, where QR tags have become predominant over the last year.
Microsoft tags were launched in 2009, mostly through press outlets and print advertisements. The idea is that a unique flashcode linked to a promotion or online experience can link consumers to companies through smartphones. By using the phone’s camera, the customer can scan the barcode and be directed towards an offer or website.
This “smart clothing” will allow fans to connect in a whole new way by accessing online content exclusive to the Toulouse rugby club. Ormières wanted to use the technology to create more interaction with the rugby team’s fans, basing it around a unique experience. “We want to create a select community and to interact on social networks while allowing access to exclusive information,” he said.
By downloading the “MS Tag” application from Microsoft, fans can use their smartphones to scan the code on the clothing to find out about updates, upcoming matches, and other promotions offered by the rugby club. It can also connect them to social networking sites like Facebook.
The rugby jerseys are not much more expensive than those without tags at 35-59 euros depending on the style. For the moment the technology is exclusive to the Stade Toulousain, though soon others may adopt the tags. “We’ll see if other people are interested,” Ormières said, “and we’ll look also at soccer teams to see if there are any other clubs interested, too.”
Photo: Stade Toulousain