How can Sailing Events Create Brand Partnerships? 2

Hugo Boss at WYRF 2010

World Yacht Racing Forum Panel Discussion.

This forum session was chaired by Scott Macleod, CEO, Force 10 Marketing. Panel members included:

  • Karin Bäcklund, Director, Global Sponsorship and Brand Partnership, Volvo Car Corporation
  • Stewart Hosford, CEO, Hugo Boss Sailing
  • Andrew Pindar, Pindar

One of the most interesting things about this session at the World Yacht Racing Forum was the lack of sailors represented. Brand partnerships are not about sailing, sailing is just the platform that allows brand partnerships to be developed.

[cleeng_content id=”417884033″ description=”99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. ” price=”0.99″]In 2009, Karin Bäcklund gave some great insight into why the Volvo Ocean Race is important to Volvo Cars. Although Volvo is most widely recognised as a B2C brand, the VIP experience is something that the company has paid a lot of attention to. But why do Volvo go sailing?

Sailing Sponsorship is more than a sticker on the side of a boat.

For Volvo, the race is about incremental business. The company wants to ‘emotionalise’ the brand, but it also wants the race to be a part of customer relations and also to build pride amongst employees.

The challenge for Volvo Cars is to move the brand perceptions. Volvo is seen as rational, while much of the purchasing decision for a car is emotional. The Volvo Ocean Race allows the company to overlay themes of excitement, adventure, drama and inspiration to the communication.

The race though can’t communicate these themes if they do not exist within the product. There needs to be a match between core values of the race and the car. These values include; safety, design technology, performance and teamwork.

Volvo’s activation and communication is not just to consumers though and they realise that people touch the brand through an integrated marketing plan. The message then needs to be consistent across CRM, After sales, Internal communications, dealer point of sale, merchandising and even purchasing.

The experience for guests is not just sending a couple of tickets in the mail. Volvo pay a lot of attention to making sure that every last detail is thought about. This includes the choice of hotel for guests and restaurants as well as the specific models of cars that are used for courtesy pick-ups and transportation.

Delegates of the forum were shown a video that showed just how far some of the sailing industry has to go. It’s worth remembering where you guest’s journey begins and where it ends.

The movement of brand perception is a difficult thing to measure, but Volvo are starting to hear the messages they are sending out being played back to them.

How Much is a Facebook Fan Worth?

Stewart Hosford, CEO, Hugo Boss Sailing comes from a different world. Making purchasing decisions for an international bank is about as far away from racing an Open 60 around the world as you can get – or is it?

At we get a few sponsorship proposals across our desk that stop with the money. Once the boat is branded up, there is not a lot of thought given to what value is achieved from a floating billboard.

Hugo Boss Sailing has activated in some unique ways over the last few years, but that have they gained out of it? Have they achieved their objectives? What are their objectives?

Well one of the objectives is “to sell shitloads of suits.” But there are other objectives too.

Hosford has a system which attaches a number to everything. From being shown for a second in the background of the golf to a Facebook fan. He also has a clever way of sense-checking these numbers – he asks the sponsor what he thinks they are worth to them.

While some in the audience may dismiss the value of a Facebook Fan, Hugo Boss place more value on such a metric than a piece of press. Think about that for a minute. Most people working in PR in sailing have not grasped this concept yet (there are notable exceptions – most of whom read this column). Why is a Facebook Fan worth more than a piece of press? Because today’s newspapers are tomorrow’s bin-liners whereas a fan on Facebook is a connection with demographics attached and a mechanism for engagement over a long period of time.

For the panellists, there can be a direct impact of sponsorship on the bottom line. Andrew Pindar can point to business booked as a direct response to sailing sponsorships. While Volvo can’t measure all the cars sold as a result of the Volvo Ocean Race, they can directly measure sales of exclusive race editions, which last race were in excess of 10,000 units.

More Yacht Racing Forum Insights.[/cleeng_content]

  • Callum

    Very interesting post, thanks for the update. Certainly agree with the comment about it ‘being the platform’. We regularly sell sponsorship without ever mentioning the sport, boats or sailors (same goes for every other sport).

    Interesting comments on Facebook. Our findings in Asia are increasingly pointing the other way though. It is so easy to ‘like’ something, join a group, agree to attend an event, without having to think or give up anything (time, money, energy). Therefore the emotional buy in is negligible.

    A quick example. If someone has to register and pay for a ticket to an event online we can pretty much guarantee they will be there. If they register but don’t have to commit money it is still pretty high, around 90%. If they say they will be there on Facebook, we can assume that less than 10% will actually attend. This has been tested against over 100 events ranging from sport, music and business over the past couple of years.

    Hence whilst there is big client demand right now for ‘likes’ and the Social Proof concept does have some merit, we have yet to see any tangible value for the majority of brands following this route.

    On a personal note, the Hugo Boss ad wake-boarding behind a yacht is one of my all time favourites!!!

  • Callum