As the organisers of the Volvo Ocean Race continue thier audit of the event and announce changes to the next version, the current race is returning to Europe with the fleet currently in Galway, Ireland.
There is no doubt that the stopover will inject some cash into the local economy, but what does title sponsor Volvo get out of such a visit? Independent.ie asked Volvo Ireleand MD David Baddeley how the race relates to selling cars. Volvo only has about 2% of the market in Ireland which in 2009 is expected to translate to 850 cars!
Mr Baddeley points out that when Volvo began its relationship with the Regatta back in 2007; no-one knew the world-famous Ocean Race would be stopping off in Ireland in 2009, but nevertheless, there are brand-building benefits to the stop.
“…we had to take a long-term view, we can’t just say we’re not going to get anything from it this year so we’re not doing it. People don’t just rush out and buy Volvos after the event, it’s about building something long term.”
Mr Baddeley’s aspirations for long-term pay-offs stem from his hope that an association with the “exciting” sport of sailing will help “update” people’s image of Volvos as being “expensive” and for “fuddy duddies”.
“When we have the cars out there on display at the events, it’s a really good opportunity to interact with potential customers in an environment where there’s no hard sell,” says Mr Baddeley, adding that the people who follow sailing are “very much” Volvo’s demographic.
“We’d expect some pick-up in the later half of the year as people realise that it’s still okay to spend money even though we’re in a recession,” he says. “Volvo has been in Ireland for more than 40 years, we’re here for the long-term.”
As race organisers have shown throughout the event, the local population following the race is one thing, the global following via the internet and other media is quite another. The race will put the city of Galway on the map for many people through media coverage of events over the next week or so.