Dee Caffari’s Tips on Sailing Sponsorship.


Sailing Sponsorship Lessons from one of the UK’s top Open 6o Skippers.

[cleeng_content id="209190166" description="99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. " price="0.99"]While the business of yacht racing covers many commercial aspects, a large part of it is dependent on corporate sponsorship. Like most sports, there are more participants and rights-owners than there are sponsors, so differentiating yourself by having a working knowledge of what sailing sponsors are looking for and how they can activate and get the most return on investment (ROI) and Return on Objectives (ROO). One sailor who has had the benefit of sponsorship of a large brand in the past is Dee Caffari. She talked to the World Yacht Racing Forum (WYRF) about the lessons learnt.

WYRF: What lessons have you learnt on the subject of sponsorship from your partnership with Aviva in your last campaign?

Dee Caffari: “Aviva’s sponsorship was concentrated around brand awareness and the company name change from Norwich Union to Aviva, creating ‘One Aviva’. A visible return on investment is paramount in order to attract sponsors into the world of sailing and having clear communications early on in the campaign between the team and sponsor help ensure clear external messaging both to the public and the media. If the message is confusing the audience can drift or switch off. A clean, simple message is easier to communicate, more particularly in the ever increasing streams of new media. Often sponsors use sailing for internal communications, however, it is essential to be able to quantify returns across a broad area (ROI and ROO) when making approaches to new sponsors.”

WYRF: How should a sponsor in the sport of sailing make the best use of its investment in the sport?

Dee Caffari: “Sailing sponsorship gives a unique platform for marketing. It has global reach and the unique asset of a branded 800m2 billboard to display at a variety of media and public environments. In solo sailing there is also the opportunity to identify with the skipper and their journey at an emotive level. The chance to sail the same yacht the skipper has raced around the globe and to be able to learn exactly what he / she has encountered when at sea is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Sponsorship of sailing enables companies to align themselves with a sport that focuses on performance, determination and pushing limits in a competitive environment. Typically, these are all aspirations of large companies. A strong association can also be made with environmental responsibility and sustainability as sailing is perceived to be a ‘clean’ sport which harnesses natural power for performance and tackles nature at its rawest. Alternative power is an emerging reality in the sport of offshore sailing as we investigate solar, wind and hydro developments to reduce the amount of fuel required. Not only a good thing for the environment but also resulting in a reduction in the weight of the yacht and subsequently increasing speed.”

WYRF: What do you consider are the important points to consider when presenting to a sponsor?

Dee Caffari: “You need to have an understanding of what a company or brand is hoping to achieve through sponsorship. Once you have identified a likely market fit and direction for the potential sponsor then you can focus on this area. Common reasons for sponsorship are:

  • Brand awareness – branding of the yacht and the team working around the campaign are key to conveying a consistent message.
  • Marketing a new product or increasing a company’s standing in the market place.
  • Corporate hospitality – a unique platform for entertaining clients.
  • Internal communications – which is increasingly important for large multi-national corporations to bring employees together around an event or relationship.

Introducing or highlighting a name, product or message in the media and public forums can be achieved more easily when it is wrapped around an event. As a sportswoman taking part in an international yacht race, I can very simply weave a sponsor’s message into interviews about my boat and sailing campaign. A company new to sailing sponsorship can sometimes be unaware of the many opportunities that surround a campaign, so identifying the variety of options available is key at presentation stage.”

WYRF: You will be attending the WYRF in December, how valuable do you think it is to have a Forum like this?

Dee Caffari: “I was present at the WYRF in 2009 and think each year the event is developing due to the organisers really listening to and addressing the feedback. To have sports professionals, sponsors and event organisers together in one place allows a good flow of information and ideas to be raised, discussed and worked on. In order to attract new sponsors into the game and be comparable to other big investment or mainstream sports, we all need to work together to increase the profile of sailing and guarantee delivery of objectives. For too long, and indeed still today, there are similar events trying to fill the same points in both calendars and classes. The WYRF is providing the best opportunity we have for showing a united and organised structure.”

Yachtsponsorship will be a media partner of the World Yacht Racing forum in Estoril in December. As well as Open 60 sailors, the conference will feature leaders from the America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, World Match Racing Tour and others.

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