Sailing Record Attempt Delivered 93:1 ROI, But What About ROO? 1

Twitter remains a strange, misunderstood tool to many, but occasionally you come across things that you might not otherwise find thanks to a recommendation. This link came from Dee Caffari’s Twitter feed over the weekend – an interesting Case Study from UK based PR WEEK analysing the Around Britain and Ireland Record Attempt in 2009. According to the article, the campaign generated a return on investment of 93:1.

[cleeng_content id=”709964876″ description=”99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. ” price=”0.99″]Record attempts are an interesting category in sailing sponsorship. While ‘risky’ in terms of success, they appeal to a wide audience and provide a mechanism to activate a sponsorship outside of any fixed event calendar. Where the record attempt can be completed with an existing boat, the marginal cost is very low and as such, return on investment is easier to achieve.

Below is an excerpt from the PR WEEK article.

  • Campaign: Around Britain and Ireland Record Attempt
  • Client: Aviva
  • PR team: Synergy
  • Timescale: June-July 2009
  • Budget: £10,000

As title sponsor of the Aviva Ocean Racing campaign, Aviva has supported British yachtswoman Dee Caffari since 2005. By completing the Aviva Challenge (May 2006) and Vendee Globe (February 2009), Caffari became the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in both directions.

Aviva was keen to capitalise on Caffari’s increased profile to elongate the campaign and support the migration of its UK brand Norwich Union to Aviva, forming part of the group’s ‘name change’ campaign that took place in June 2009.


  • To increase awareness of Aviva within the UK and support the name change campaign
  • To strengthen the association between Aviva and Dee Caffari
  • To extend beyond the traditional sailing audience.

Strategy and plan

It was decided that Caffari and three other female sailors would embark on an attempt to break the world record for sailing a mono-hull around Britain and Ireland, onboard the yacht Aviva. The previous record was held by an all-male crew. To add further news interest, one member of Caffari’s crew was her only other female Vendee Globe race rival, Samantha Davies, a fellow high-profile British sailor.

A female, non-sailing journalist was invited to spend a day training with the Aviva crew to gain an understanding of the sport, in order to move coverage away from a traditional sailing audience. The world record attempt was sold to media with the all-female hook. [ Y$: Originally, it was intended that the journalist would take part in the entire campaign, but selling the story or getting someone to pay for her to cover the event in its entirety did not happen.]

The PR team ran a 24-hour press office throughout the world record attempt, including telephone interviews with the crew, imagery and regular updates that increased in frequency towards the finish in order to drive anticipation.

A tracker showing the exact location of the yacht, compared with the existing record, was created on the Aviva Ocean Racing website.

Measurement and evaluation

  • In total 100 pieces of coverage were generated over a one-month period.
  • One-third of these were on TV and totalled 42 minutes of UK airtime.
  • The BBC covered the world record attempt from departure to completion, and covered the completion live with seven pieces on BBC One’s Breakfast programme and six on the BBC news channel.
  • In total 12 pieces of national print coverage appeared in various publications including The Guardian and the Daily Express.
  • Seventy-one per cent of all coverage featured a logo or photograph.
  • [Y$ : The campaign was extensively ‘Tweeted’ by Dee, Sam and @jopayton and there was a high level of engagement via ‘retweets’ and blogs ]


While the financial return might have been 93:1 (presumably calculated using equivalent media value), there is nothing in the article to suggest that the campaign met the stated objectives. Without the participation of the non-sailing journalist for the actual attempt, the third objective would have been compromised.[/cleeng_content]

  • It's an interesting observation. As a side observation it seems to me that Aviva got extraordinary value for their budget in terms of coverage. I was one of many within the twitter sailing community following the event which actually lasted for several weeks rather than just the days of the race as we watched for the weather window.