Leveraging the Sponsorship Deal – How PUMA Painted the Town Red. 2

According to the content management system, this is article 1000 for Yachtsponsorship.com. It’s fitting then, that the subject be how sailing can deliver against other top sports as a platform for promotion and communication.

One of the main themes of day one of the 2009 World Yacht Racing Forum was that different sponsors are looking for different things and therefore measurement of return on investment is not standard. A B2B company wants different outcomes to a B2C company. Then of course there is B2G (Business to Government) which has a totally different sales approach and cycle.

It was interesting then to compare stories from PUMA, Velux and BT – each of whom have chosen different platforms within sailing to target their particular audience and communicate different messages.

We’ve been big fans of PUMA since they arrived on the sailing scene. They have some advantages over other sponsors – they are business to consumer. They are selling a sailing related item. They have lots of sports marketing experience from outside the yacht racing world and they can leverage activity in other sectors like fashion and music.

The tone of everything PUMA does in sailing is different. The soundtrack is rock music, not classical. The soundbites are raw, with the real feelings of competitors laid bare, not rehearsed and massaged PR pieces.

Daniel Miles, Group Head Marketing, PUMA  presented to the forum some of the ways in which the company set out to win the race from a sponsorship point of view. The strategy included owning the boat, showcasing the gear, picking the right team (on and off the water), PUMA city and working hard on media.

The campaign leveraged the wow factor of PUMA’s biggest selling sneaker through the boat livery, incorporating an element of ‘sex sells’ by introducing fashion shows and playing on cultural differences. The activation of the PUMA campaign was just as important as the race – the ideal to get the sailing clothes out of the confines of the chandlery. The company estimates that through activities not connected to the race over 44,000 members of the general public connected with the PUMA brand.

PUMA also decided to work with other non-competing companies. This is a practise that happens a lot in other sports. Many rights holders create ‘business clubs’ that allow sponsors and partners to do business with each other as well as external customers. Often the relationships developed in the race village can deliver real returns. The example cited by PUMA is getting together with ‘competing’ sponsor Ericsson to develop ways to use mobile as a platform for communication.

Puma also understood, that while getting the best sailors together to try and win the race was important, the supporting team also needed to be the best in class. Many in sport subscribe to the idea: “if it doesn’t make the car/boat go faster, then why should I spend money on it.” The smart sponsors realise that to win the media race costs money.