Where Would You Spend a £10 million Sponsorship Budget? 10


Let’s imagine for a moment that a company had £10 million to spend on sponsorship. Where would be the best place to put it? It’s a question that marketing directors and CEOs ask themselves occasionally – usually once a year when reviewing long term marketing strategies.The reason this site exists is to communicate how sailing as a sport can compete with other sports for a share of sponsorship budgets. There are literally hundreds of combinations each offering different investments and different levels of return on that investment.

We believe that there are some great bargains out there and some great opportunities for sponsors who want to make a splash to really grab hold of a segment and own it the way Audi have done in Australia or with the Med Cup or iShares and their eXtreme 40 events.

We also think that sometimes there is a tendency for those in sailing not to look over the fence at other sports and realise just how much a company can get for £10 million.

Elaine Bunting, writing on YBW.COM has reported that UK sailor Steve White, who pulled together a shoestring budget for his amazing recent Vendee Globe campaign is looking for £10 million for the next one.

He’s not the only one. Any sailor looking to build a new boat for the next Vendee will be looking at raising a similar amount.

On the plus side, the money creates an asset, which as long as it makes it around and back in one piece has some residual value. There is also obvious media value, though this is limited mainly to France and handful of other sailing countries.

Sponsorship people are very good at creating a case that in isolation looks like a good deal, it’s only when a marketing director puts that deal next to one from a MotoGP team or Tennis or Golf, or even football, that £10 million for 90 days of racing seems like a big wedge of cash.

In a recent poll by Sports Pro Magazine ranking the top 200 sports properties, the Vendee Globe didn’t make it. In many of the sports that did make it, £10 million would go a long way.

We’re in Sweden this week for the Match Cup as part of the World Match Racing Tour. It’s not the Vendee Globe, but if you spent £10 million you would get a lot of return. In fact, you could spend that money not on a boat build, but on marketing, media and activation and deliver incredible results. More than that, you would deliver in 10 countries including emerging markets.

In offshore sailing, there is nothing like the Vendee Globe. It delivers on many levels and immense media value is generated. But as Steve White and Sam Davies showed in the last version, the biggest budget doesn’t always mean the biggest return.

There are companies out for whom sponsoring a Vendee Globe entrant to the tune of £10 million makes a lot of sense. They are probably French or have big French connections. As always, whether or not a sponsorship makes sense comes down to the marketing goals of the sponsor.

  • What a shame this article is so badly researched – it really doesn’t do either of us or sailing any favours! If you had bothered to research our offering (by calling or e-mailing us through our website for example) you would have discovered that for the amount of money stated a sponsor would, over a duration of over three and a half years, get two round the world races, four trans Atlantic races, two Fastnets, four lots of Cowes Week, not to mention many days per year of corporate hospitality and team building on the boat; motivational speaking, a tour of a sponsor’s key sites much as Group Bel are doing, plus the opportunity to have a go at some record attempts (as Aviva have just done). The project also makes an excellent foundation for internal motivational schemes. The list is endless, and even with my maths I’m sure it adds up to a greater return than 90 days exposure during one race……..our aim is to provide a sponsor with a significant return before we even cross the start line of the 2012 Vendée Globe, which we will do.

    If a marketing manager views a campaign such as ours in this way then it is probably best that they stick to something as unimaginative as golf or football shirt sponsorship, and leaves sailing to those who understand the benefits it can bring.

  • hspedding

    DO you honestly believe that any IMOCA team is looking for sponsorship for 90 days of sailing? Perhaps you wrote that for impact, because it is complete rubbish. I would be surprised if there was a single team on the start line of the Vendee Globe that had not given a healthy return to their sponsor before they even got to Les Sables D'Olonne for the start.
    One of the better funded UK teams had given a full return to their sponsor 5 months before the start, and that is only including UK media. So many of the premises in your article are just completely unfounded.
    The modern media forums allow for far greater public following for all sorts of sports events, but the change has probably been greatest in non-spectator sports, such as offshore sailing. Unfortunately these same forums also allow people to publish supposedly knowledgable articles without doing the research.

  • John Galt

    If I had ten million to spend on sponsorship I would expect it to be spent on a top ranked leading edge exciting platform which has historically yielded very high ROI. As football, tennis, golf are yawningly common, ocean racing has to be the place to go these days. Volvo is almost as well known for the Ocean Race as it is for its cars. White has come from a wanabe nobody ever heard of to be ranked 9th in the world on a budget most people couldn't even run a household on. It is singularly depressing that there appears to be a recognition of the value of ocean racing in Sweden, the USA and in France but not in the UK which as a nation wins more sailing Olympic Medals than other countries. The money is there, the City is still awash with it despite talks of doom and gloom. Some company will benefit greatly from sponsoring White, the old saying “Quality is remembered long after the price has been forgotten” applies there. It is a shame that in an article such as yours you could not have encouraged yacht sponsorship instead of decrying it.

  • Brian_CB

    Writing as a reasonably high standard amateur sailor, I find the tone of your article to be more likely to put off any prospective sponsor for our global sailors. They have achieved results to which I would aspire when I retire from my current career in a couple of years and get the chance to make my passion in life into my next career. Your article makes no mention of the years of unrewarded hard labour and the massive personal debt that even our “household names” such as Dame Ellen Macarthur, Mike Golding, Dee Caffari and now Steve accrued on their way to achieving their current competitive status. With personalities as driven as they all are, the top step on the podium is the only step to aim for and that takes ambition, great skill AND the funding to provide the right boat and support. We all claim a little of the reflected glory when our “Great British” stars show us that we can achieve our dreams, allbeit that those dreams are achieved in the British way, on a shoestring and through personal (and family) hardship. For a website that purports to help raise sailing to a wider audience you really need to read your articles before shooting yourselves, or the people that give you something to write about, in the foot!

  • It's an interesting discussion. Shame on you ed for mentioning the 90 day number because otherwise most of the points are pretty right. I've been reading this website for a while and there aren't many other people out there as ambassadorial about sailing as a marketing platform than these guys.

    It' a valid question to ask – is the Vendee Globe the best place to put £10 million. Will Roxy sponsor the Vendee Globe again? probably not – why? because they could never match the ROI they got last time. Would a £10 million investment in the Volvo Ocean Race generate a better return? Perhaps. Would an xtreme 40 campaign be a better place to put £10 million? – shit you could run 2 teams for 5 years for that budget!!

    Steve and Sam and others do 'deserve' to get backing, but it's a fair reality check to ask. Are the immense build costs of the Open 60's still worth it?

  • It's good to get some debate. I've been following the comments from Sweden and tomorrow we will publish a follow-up article. Here's a question to think about though – did the £10 million campaigns get 10 times the coverage of the £1 million campaigns in the last version of the race?

  • John Galt

    If I had ten million to spend on sponsorship I would expect it to be spent on a top ranked leading edge exciting platform which has historically yielded very high ROI. As football, tennis, golf are yawningly common, ocean racing has to be the place to go these days. Volvo is almost as well known for the Ocean Race as it is for its cars. White has come from a wanabe nobody ever heard of to be ranked 9th in the world on a budget most people couldn't even run a household on. It is singularly depressing that there appears to be a recognition of the value of ocean racing in Sweden, the USA and in France but not in the UK which as a nation wins more sailing Olympic Medals than other countries. The money is there, the City is still awash with it despite talks of doom and gloom. Some company will benefit greatly from sponsoring White, the old saying “Quality is remembered long after the price has been forgotten” applies there. It is a shame that in an article such as yours you could not have encouraged yacht sponsorship instead of decrying it.

  • Brian_CB

    Writing as a reasonably high standard amateur sailor, I find the tone of your article to be more likely to put off any prospective sponsor for our global sailors. They have achieved results to which I would aspire when I retire from my current career in a couple of years and get the chance to make my passion in life into my next career. Your article makes no mention of the years of unrewarded hard labour and the massive personal debt that even our “household names” such as Dame Ellen Macarthur, Mike Golding, Dee Caffari and now Steve accrued on their way to achieving their current competitive status. With personalities as driven as they all are, the top step on the podium is the only step to aim for and that takes ambition, great skill AND the funding to provide the right boat and support. We all claim a little of the reflected glory when our “Great British” stars show us that we can achieve our dreams, allbeit that those dreams are achieved in the British way, on a shoestring and through personal (and family) hardship. For a website that purports to help raise sailing to a wider audience you really need to read your articles before shooting yourselves, or the people that give you something to write about, in the foot!

  • It's an interesting discussion. Shame on you ed for mentioning the 90 day number because otherwise most of the points are pretty right. I've been reading this website for a while and there aren't many other people out there as ambassadorial about sailing as a marketing platform than these guys.

    It' a valid question to ask – is the Vendee Globe the best place to put £10 million. Will Roxy sponsor the Vendee Globe again? probably not – why? because they could never match the ROI they got last time. Would a £10 million investment in the Volvo Ocean Race generate a better return? Perhaps. Would an xtreme 40 campaign be a better place to put £10 million? – shit you could run 2 teams for 5 years for that budget!!

    Steve and Sam and others do 'deserve' to get backing, but it's a fair reality check to ask. Are the immense build costs of the Open 60's still worth it?

  • It's good to get some debate. I've been following the comments from Sweden and tomorrow we will publish a follow-up article. Here's a question to think about though – did the £10 million campaigns get 10 times the coverage of the £1 million campaigns in the last version of the race?