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.