The Audi MedCup is one of the stand-out events in the world of Yacht Racing. The combination of a who’s who of sailors, large powerful boats and glamourous locations has made it attractive to sponsors who believe that there is commercial value in the event. With title sponsor Audi on board, the series is starting to offer consistency and the potential of a long term plan.
However, there are niggling structural problems with a series like the Audi MedCup, like what happens if the owners get bored with TP52s and want to race something else? In the absence of a strong leadership organisation in the sport, the most commercially savvy promoters are making the best decisions for their events. This is easier with commercial partners on board.
In December, the 2nd annual World Yacht Racing Forum will provide a platform to discuss some of the bigger structural issues in the world of yacht racing. Each month they hint at some of the characters and issues that will be covered through an online newsletter. This month, the WYRF team talk to the Audi MedCup.
Like other events, the Audi MedCup has been affected by the global economic situation. The number of entries has decreased, forcing the organisers to merge the TP 52 championship with the GP 42 events. We ask Marketing Director Fernando Inigo how he sees the future of the event.
WYRF: Fernando Inigo, tell us about Audi’s involvement in the TP 52 Class; how did it all start?
Fernando Inigo: “Our first meetings with Audi took place in 2006 and we reached an agreement by the end of the year. Breitling was our main partner at the time and Audi took over as title sponsor in 2008. They knew the event well when they decided to become the main sponsor because they had been observing the events from inside.
How did you convince Audi to become partner of the event?
Fernando Inigo: “Audi has always been involved in sport, but at the time they didn’t have much experience in sailing. They decided that it was an important sport for their future because they share many of the sports’ values. The TP 52 circuit is also a very high level circuit, with races all over Europe and a format comparable with Formula 1 or motorbike GP. It also involves high technology, research & development.”
WYRF: What do you offer Audi?
Fernando Inigo: “First of all, we offer a good media return. We have a strong TV distribution through our partner APP / Sunset & Vine. We produce an 8′ and a 26′ program at each event, and send VNR’s all over Europe, Asia and America. We also produce articles for print media and have a good return in both sailing and lifestyle media in the UK, Spain, France, Italy, Germany and Portugal.
The second thing is hospitality and PR. The circuit provides a good platform that allows the sponsors to invite their local agents. We receive at least 75 guests per event and offer them a full VIP program through our agency Jacaranda. They can enjoy the race village, follow the races from a boat and even sail on the boats on occasions.
Audi also exposes six cars during each event; there is a tent where they can meet clients etc… Finally, there is a program for the public, with a cinema that can host 55 people, an exhibition about the race, the boats, the trophies and interactive games.”
WYRF: How do they leverage their investment in the event?
Fernando Inigo: “They help a lot with the communication. Generally speaking, the integration of the name “Audi” in the title of the event has changed a lot of things. It is much easier to make media deals when you speak in the name of a big brand. The national Audi suppliers are quite free to choose how they communicate. The French, Spanish and Italian branches have decided to use the MedCup in their mainstream communication, and this is obviously a big push for us.
WYRF: How sustainable is the MedCup and how do you see its future?
Fernando Inigo: “The circuit demonstrates its strength this year, and proves that it has great potential. These are multimillion projects and despite the crisis the circuit lives well. The integration of the two series (the TP’s and the Gp’s) is a great success. Of course, we suffer from the crisis. However the second fleet has brought an increase in the number of sailors involved. I expect an improvement next year, especially in the GP 42 Class.
WYRF: Are there priorities in your organisation such as bringing the costs down?
Fernando Inigo: “We think about it constantly and we want to bring in new rules. Over the past four years, the budgets have been multiplied by three or four in some cases. It is very difficult to stop the budgets from growing, because the owners don’t always play the game and spend too much. Luckily, the 42’s offer an interesting alternative. Our goal is definitely to be the best circuit in the world at all levels. In terms of positioning, we are clearly closer to the America’s Cup than to the Farr 40’s. But we also offer consistency in the organisation of our events, and our budgets are controlled.”