Jessica Watson Backers Looking to Put Sailing Back on Page 1. 3

Record attempts are risky things to sponsor, but history has shown that they can deliver massive return on investment. Ask someone in the UK to remember a sailing moment and most will recall Ellen MacArthur becoming the fastest person to sail around the world. They may not be able to remember the actual achievement, but most will get the name right and know that it caused a big media fuss.

So, as sixteen year old Australian, Jessica Watson starts to head for home in the last legs of her record circumnavigation, sponsors are starting to jostle to have a piece of the promotional pie. The majority of the marketing success should go to early sponsors Ella Bache and One HD – they took the risk when many were saying the attempt was unsafe lunacy, but that won’t stop savvy brands from using Watson’s new found celebrity status to sell cars or banking products.

Australian media reports that Jessica Watson could be one of the country’s richest teenagers, with a “multi-million-dollar sponsorship bonanza awaiting her return to dry land”.

Spokesman Andrew Fraser said:

“We’ve had approaches from an automotive company but she hasn’t even got her L-plates yet. She’s old enough to sail round the world but can’t drive a car.”

The great news for sailing, is that the sport will be back on the front page of the papers and with any luck the front of cereal boxes and bank branches. The press are already positioning Watson as “a global star in the mould of Olympic snowboarder Torah Bright – transcending the confines of sailing to become a poster girl for action and adventure.”

The teenager’s website receives about one million hits (?) a week and her fan base has extended internationally. Naturally there will be a book, which she is writing at sea and no doubt there will be TV documentaries as well.

Jessica is now about 4000 nautical miles off the West Australian coast, about 6000 nautical miles from the finish of her voyage.

  • “She’s old enough to sail round the world but can’t drive a car.”

    That's exactly the problem. Old enough to sail around the world? When is that happening? Just because a 5y old kid knows how to drive a car it doesn't mean that he's old enough to drive it, because there are rules saying that.

    With sailing, someone is old enough if he/she doesn't die?

    Maybe you guys wanna do a blog post about how sponsors and promoters are key responsible in this nonsense? Or should we just wait for someone to die? Getting sponsorship out of this is the same as sponsoring a 5y old kid that's “old enough” to drive and put him on Nascar.

  • Whatever the contoversy surrounding whether or not… Jessica has shown that, apart from a hiccup at the start, she can sail solo around the world. She's a smart kid who deserves the recognition.

    Sponsors are very good at understanding risk. No brand manager wants their product or service associated with negative press, which is why many of them are now expressing interest in the project – now that the risk of accidents are minimised.

    My guess is that sponsors and promoters are not responsible. The individuals would do these projects irrespective of backing because of a passion that is deeper than pure commercial gain.

    As for NASCAR, they have a great grass-roots program that starts with dirt tracks and local racing, then moves up into bigger races with the Sprint Cup at the top. It would be impossible for an unlicensed, untalented driver to race in NASCAR.

  • “she shown” indeed, and as i said one day some will show to not to be old enough, too late. Throwing dices to “show” isn't a good approach to anything. People with tons of years of experience are sometimes not prepared but she shown… Did she collided with a ship? Did she show she was capable before or after that?

    I am not saying she is not capable, don't know enough. I am saying that everybody seems to say she is, when she's a kid doing a sport where being capable is the difference between being famous to sell some shirt or being dead.

    Sponsors are good understanding risk. All but the one that will have the “bad luck” of sponsoring the first kid that dies out there. And it will happen, there is nothing preventing it.