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Sponsorship people will tell you that placing sponsorship can be as hard as raising it. While that might sound counter intuitive to sailors who see brands visibly spending money on marketing, getting the fit right between a brand an an audience and then finding the perfect vehicle to deliver that message takes time and effort.
Almost 12 months ago, Artemis took a step back from their sailing sponsorship programmes and asked themselves if it was working, how it might be done better and whether sponsoring something else might deliver the company’s marketing objectives better. Working with OC Group and other sponsorship consultants, Artemis set about evaluating how most effectively communicate as a British company to a British audience.
Mark Tyndall, Artemis CEO says:
For a business like ours, a British business, the traditional routes like football don’t fit. Football for example is very tribal – if you sponsor Manchester city, you might sell a lot of product to people who support Manchester City, but not to many supporters of Manchester United. Rugby is also very tribal. Other sports like golf and tennis, you get a small part of the action and you can’t really control the events so it is more difficult to give your clients an experience in which they can participate.
The demographics of sailing fit with our business, and our clients get to meet the sailors and participate in some of the events. There is also the fantastic ‘billboard’ effect which we have seen from the Open 60.
Sailing then is the preferred vehicle, but which events fit with the British nature of the brand? When you sit down and look at it, there are not very many British sailing events that provide the exposure required. While there are a lot of high profile and talented British sailors and campaigns, many spend the bulk of their time sailing in other markets. For example, Ian Williams a former World Champion competes in the World Match Racing Tour, but the series never visits UK shores.
Cowes Week is certainly very British and is notably without title sponsorship. Artemis have been involved with the long running regatta via the Artemis Challenge, a pro-am race around the Isle of Wight for Open 60s. Part of the new Artemis sailing sponsorship program will include increased support for Cowes Week. (More about that in a separate article soon).
So how does a brand like Artemis spend money in British sailing when the ‘right’ platform doesn’t exist. The answer is to create a platform that can be customised to deliver exactly what the company needs, which is how the Artemis Offshore Racing Academy was created.
The Artemis Offshore Racing Academy is not just good sports business, it is good business. Artemis along with OC Group have created a long term programme that is bigger than sport or marketing. Like the Oman Sail project, another OC Group project, there are legacy considerations built into the four year campaign. Sailing as a sport suffers from a lack of defined paths through the sport which sees talent drop out of the system. The RYA has 1000 sailors on its development programme, while there are only 40 at Olympic level.
Rod Carr says:
What we need to do is have a number of routes and obvious ladders so people can say – I know where the bottom of that ladder is and I can start to plan. When they are sailing at age 13 and they see Ellen (McArthur) or Mike (Golding) they can say – I know how to get there.
Although there are several well proven Open 60 sailors in the UK, most are without sponsorship. While creating another crop of new competitors might make it more difficult to raise money from a finite pool of brands with the cash to back them all, Artemis thinks that the academy will raise the profile of the sport and attract new backers.
Mark Tyndall says:
Increasing the level of talent through an academy gives sponsors a wider range of talent to choose from and hopefully will help the Open 60 discipline to attract a larger share of sponsorship.
Mark Turner, CEO of OC Group says:
We are missing out on a lot of sailors who might have gone through the Olympic programme and who drop out of the system. Part of this is because the leap from a sponsorship perspective to go from a funded RYA program to an Open 60 budget. It’s commercially a big leap, technically a big leap and mentally a scary thing to do. This limits the number of people who are willing to make the step.