Sports Marketing Experts Comment on America’s Cup Changes.

BMW ORACLE still haven’t revealed the team of experts that have had input into the new America’s Cup format (though video from ORACLE Openworld features Stan Honey – the man who put the yellow line on the NFL telecast). The World Yacht Racing Forum is increasingly trying to expose the business of sailing to expert opinion from outside the sport, and in its monthly newsletter speaks four speakers who will comment on sponsorship in Estoril in December.

[cleeng_content id=”859698779″ description=”99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. ” price=”0.99″]Steve Madincea, Founder & Group Managing Director of Prism, Richard Moore, CEO of Capitalize, Scott MacLeod, CEO of Force 10 Marketing and Nick Masson, CEO, Crossinitiatives, former marketing and communications Director, Alinghi were asked their views.

WYRF: What do you think of the America’s Cup new format?

Steve Madincea: “It looks like the winning formula. They have done a great job of listening to and responding to input from various teams, officials, spectators and sponsors.”

Scott MacLeod: “After 3 years in the courts, it’s good to have a direction and hopefully some long term continuity for the event. The format and the boats are a totally new direction which I hope will re-energize the event and attract new fans. I hope that they have done enough market research and that they don’t alienate the core fan base and know this will attract the “facebook” generation. I hope the costs are low enough and the carrot big enough to attract enough teams to the event.

Richard Moore: “One of the most important things about sports administration and marketing is to ensure clarity well in advance of an event. The Olympics and the Football World Cup are good examples: participants and fans know when and where the events will be staged 6 or 8 years in advance. The really important parameters such as the host nation, the competition format and the qualification requirements are agreed and set in stones years ahead of an event. Sailing needs a clear and long term narrative. People want consistency, and I don’t mean limiting evolution, I simply mean that in a crowded sports market place people need to know that the basic building blocks are in place well in advance. What is important to me as a sports marketer is not just the format of the Cup in 2013 but the long term structure and stability. I want to know what the event cycle is, what the format is, what qualification requirements there are and the other key building blocks. In short I want certainty, not doubt, and the announcement in Valencia went some way towards that.”

Nick Masson: “Commercially I like the cats and the fact that there will be more pre-regattas but I don’t think the announced changes are ground breaking; more an evolution from AC 32. It does look expensive and teams are going to find it difficult to close high value deals before the close of entry without a lot more concrete information.”

WYRF: Is it a good or bad thing from a sponsorship point of view?

Steve Madincea: “It’s very good. Now the excitement and intrigue of the best teams racing on equal terms can be captured and used to reach a dynamic consumer base. As the sponsorship industry grows, brands will continue to look for new and clever ways to connect with consumers around the globe. Yachting offers some of the best sponsorship assets for a growing brand.”

Scott MacLeod: “It is good to know there is an event, a date and soon a location. The independent structure, AC World Series, youth events and potential long term continuity will hopefully give sponsors the security to look at the America’s Cup again. However, there are some concerns:

  • Most teams will miss getting into the 2011 budget cycle for most companies which will mean spreading cost across two years (2012-13) rather than 3.
  • The market for top level, global sponsorships is still very tight due to the economic recovery.
  • The market is very competitive across the top global sports and the pricing levels have come down.

However, I’m bullish as the 2007 America’s Cup was a commercial success for most of the companies involved and this will provide a good base.

Richard Moore: “There is a long way to go to build corporate sponsors trust and understanding of the America’s Cup. All the glamour, excitement, technical and sporting prowess that goes with the Cup has been overshadowed by doubt and confusion. We still don’t have a host venue so how can a sponsor say whether it’s the right sponsorship for them if they don’t know where the “final” will be? Take the FIFA World Cup as an example. It is relatively easy for the Board of a major international business to agree a sponsorship around the World Cup because they know it will take place in June/July 2014 in Brazil as well as the format and scale of the event. AC has none of this at present.

Nick Masson: “Neutral. Sponsors are not particularly focused on the type of boat and they assume the TV production will be good at this level. They are more focused on whether it appeals to their target audience fit’s with their priority markets, provides good exposure and delivers a good return on their objectives. The impact on sponsorship will be easier to gauge when we know where the regattas will be and how the TV reach will be dramatically increased. I think the fact that team web sites can only be accessed through the AC site is absurd on any level and will impair fundraising efforts.”

WYRF: Will it bring new & different sponsors to the yacht racing scene?

Steve Madincea: “By 2013 I expect the field will be supported 60% by sponsors brand new to the sport. Those that have never before been involved will find out about the opportunities within the sport and gravitate to it to help them deliver their brand and business goals. It won’t be easy at first but ultimately I believe all the biggest brands will be there. It will be too exciting to miss!”

Scott MacLeod: “I hope so. New exciting, high tech boats and a consistent circuit of events and media should attract new types of sponsors (consumer electronics, FMCG, drinks, high-tech). However, you may not see this until the next cycle when the “hopefully new audience” numbers are evaluated and show that they are larger and attract a younger audience. Hopefully they’ll track this from the beginning to show potential sponsors that there is an audience shift from the traditional perceptions.”

Richard Moore: “Possibly in the long run, but there are safer properties to spend the corporate dollar on. I don’t think the Cup will derive its true value from corporate sponsors until it addresses the long term structural issues and provides everyone – sailors, fans and corporate sponsors – with a clear narrative.”

Nick Masson: “Maybe but only if we see more teams lining up. If they get eight teams plus and three or four are from new markets then we should see some new brands but I suspect they’ll be from the “traditional” sectors. Having said this if they deliver an event that is exciting, broaden the media exposure and do an excellent job on execution it could provide a very strong platform for the 35th AC. It’s always easier selling a reality rather than a promise.”

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