Last week, yachtsponsorship.com visited the Paris International Boat Show. While visitors entering from one gate are greeted with a white version of Puma’s Il Mostro, and BMW displays that tie in the company’s support for the BMW ORACLE Americas Cup team, inside at the stands of producers like Beneteau and Bavaria, you would not know that a boat could be used for racing.
In an Olympic year, and at a time when two major offshore races attracting global media attention are taking place, promoting the sport to a wider audience, the production boat manufacturers are completely ignoring the connection. It was left up to companies promoting cars and tourism and wet-weather gear to use the association with the most visible aspect of the sport to sell more product.
In our opinion, BMW came out on top as the best activation of their sponsorships. Outside, they mixed displays of cars with photos of Americas Cup Racing. Inside they staged cars next to a J-80 from the BMW sailing cup. This was coupled with branded SLAM gear and more traditional advertising on show bags and on the website.
The Volvo 70 outside Hall 1 was being used, not to sell sailing, but trainers and sailing clothing. The main Vendee Globe stage was conducting live interviews with skippers, and in doing so, promoting tourism in the Vendee area of France.
While attending the International Sailing Summit (ISS), held in conjunction with the show last week, we tried to understand why the production manufacturers completely ignored the racing aspect of the sport. Even Beneteau’s stand for their ‘First’ line of yachts made no mention of racing.
Phrases like “it doesn’t work that way,” and “but you have to realise this is a small industry”, just don’t make sense. The competitors in the Vendee Globe, Volvo Ocean Race, and the Olympics are the visible heroes of the sport. They are being used wisely by brands like Puma and BMW and Henri Lloyd, but not by the companies who arguably have the most to gain from a brand association.
Perhaps the assembled who’s who at the innaugural World Yacht Racing Forum, to be held in Monaco over the next few days, will be able to enlighten us. Of course we welcome manufacturer views as well.