[cleeng_content id=”471755266″ description=”99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. ” price=”0.99″]This weekend. I competed alongside 16,000 other participants in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race aboard Volvo Team For Life, a TP52 racing yacht helmed by British Olympic medallist Shirley Robertson. Volvo Cars UK are a partner of the race, and the involvement is an important part of a larger commitment to British sailing.
The best sponsorship campaigns are those which are activated through long term commitment. This means building a portfolio of activities that are complimentary and in a world of social networking, build links between brands, ambassadors and the target audience.
Volvo Cars UK have supported British Sailing for a long time and the programme has touchpoints with the whole of the sport, from grass-roots beginners through to elite Olympic athletes. The Round the Island Race is important to the overall campaign because of its inclusiveness. Professional racing teams make up a fraction of the participants in the event, however at the end of the race, the shared experience brings the community together.
This sense of community extends to the companies and brands that support the event and the sport. While Volvo Team For Life ambassadors like Shirley Robertson, Ben Ainslie and Paul Goodison are seasoned media campaigners, there is a sense that they are truly grateful for Volvo’s support – it’s not just a contractual arrangement, but a partnership that works for everyone.
Like title sponsor JP Morgan Asset Management, Volvo Cars UK has big-picture positioning reasoning for being involved with sailing. Duncan Forrester, Head of Public Relations, Events & Sponsorship says:
“We believe sailing’s inherent use of natural resources fits perfectly with Volvo’s environmental values. At Volvo we believe our commitment to the environment does not mean compromising on state of the art technology, comfort or style. Our DRIVe range is leading the way in creating cars which will have zero impact on the environment reflecting our aim to be the car of choice for the sailing community. Our environmental credentials have gone a long way in helping us achieve this.”
But positioning is only part of the story. The Round the Island experience is an unforgettable hospitality platform. Many of the automotive and motorsport journalists aboard had never been on a boat before, let alone a purpose built racing yacht. Waking someone up at 3am in the morning, putting them aboard a boat with an Olympic gold medallist and making them get involved as the spinnaker is hoisted on the start-line jostling for position with 1700 other boats is not something that can be replicated by inviting them to a tent at a race-track.
In the past, this might be the end of it. A great weekend and perhaps a better feeling about the brand that may or may not translate into more sales, but like many automotive brands, Volvo are embracing a more conversational, relationship based marketing approach. The Volvo Team for Life Facebook page is part of a strategy that hopes to develop deeper, more long term relationships between the brand and customers, which must ultimately lead to greater loyalty and long term customer value.