BMW End America’s Cup Sponsorship with Innovation and R&D ROI. 3

BMW America's Cup

[cleeng_content id=”770829970″ description=”99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. ” price=”0.99″]BMW have announced that their long-standing America’s Cup Sponsorship partnership with Larry Ellison’s BMW-ORACLE racing team will end this year. The end of the relationship also signals the German car manufacturer’s involvement with the America’s Cup.

BMW have been involved with the team since 2002, and the benefits to the company would have been a lot more than media exposure. BMW-ORACLE’s entry in the 2009 Dark Blue Book includes the following service offer:

Carbon Construction: high-quality composite construction of racing yachts, components, and parts inc. construction management services.

For a performance car brand, there are obvious associations to be gained from sponsorship of a yacht racing team, indeed Audi and Volvo invest heavily in the sport. But BMW would have also received significant R&D value from the partnership which culminated in building a next-generation trimaran to win the America’s Cup. The official statement says:

Technology and skills have transferred freely between the automaker and sailing team, most notably in the fields of structural engineering and high-modulus composite construction. The result was celebrated in the February when the yacht USA 17, the fastest yacht in the history of the America’s Cup, won the 33rd Match with a resounding 2:0 victory off Valencia, Spain.

But while the R&D benefits are obvious, it would also be interesting to know what the brand impact of sponsoring the team has been. It might be hard to separate out the effect of the sponsorship from other activities that the company was engaged in at the same time. (BMW ran an F1 team for most of the period that they sponsored the sailing.) The company may have also suffered a negative brand response from being so closely aligned with the public fights between Larry Ellison and Ernesto Bertarelli.

Ralf Hussmann, General Manager BMW Sports Marketing and Brand Cooperation also references the benefits the company gained from using the America’s Cup as an innovation platform. He also confirms that the company will continue to back the sport:

“On the design and engineering front, BMW engineers set new benchmarks in terms of intelligent lightweight design. In winning the 33rd America’s Cup, we achieved all of our ambitious goals. We will continue to be involved in the sport on a national level.”

It would be interesting to see if any of the developments have made their way into the consumer product. Like motorsport, the sport of sailing has many development classes that give companies the opportunity to test design processes and manufacturing techniques in a harsh, competitive environment. If you can make a component that can be used ‘in anger’ at the top of the sport and also works in salt-water then you can apply the learnings to other applications.

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  • Tex Larson

    So, one would think this opens up possibilities for a new auto sponsor. Any interest from other automakers, yet? What is the back story on BMW’s decision to back out?

  • Well Audi are big sailing sponsors and obviously Volvo has a big commitment too, but the America’s Cup is still an unknown quantity. No American auto-maker would commit to such a property while there is still a chance the Cup could be held in Italy.

    There are just not enough elements of the package that are confirmed for any sponsor to qrite a cheque. Given the way that sponsorship operates for other events though, there will probably be an ‘Official car’ sponsorship spot available.

    I think the back story is that the deal had just run its course…

  • James

    The headshot on your home page to introduce this news is of George O’Grady – Commissioner of the PGA European Tour. BMW has sponsored it since about 1996 in one way or another. No really anything to do with AC sponsorship!