Can Sailing Produce Sporting Personalities with Global Brands?


World Yacht Racing Forum Keynote by Clifford Bloxham, Octagon.

Richard Simmonds from Sunset+vine APP introduced Clifford Bloxham, Head of Athlete Representation, Octagon and his keynote presentation at the 2010 World Yacht Racing Forum by asking who the most recognisable sailing personality in the world is.

[cleeng_content id=”977442276″ description=”99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. ” price=”0.99″]Such a question is likely to deliver different answers in different parts of the world. Answers from the floor included Chitchester and Ellen Macarthur who are names that have managed to become recognised outside the pure sporting community. Were there more Australians in the audience, the answer may well have been Jessica Watson who received an enormous amount of publicity in 2010.

Whatever the answer around the world, Ocatagon doesn’t have any sailors on their books. Their approach to building brands around personalities are similar to those methods used to create brands for soap-powder or cars.

Brands start with core values. These may not be explicitly part of a strapline or logo, but define everything that a sports personality brand does. These core values are important, because they should dictate which opportunities are taken up along the way e.g. Which other brands to endorse, whether or not to do ‘nude’ calendars. Tools like asking ‘What will they say about you when you retire?’ are useful to distil these values.

According to Bloxham, it is important for sports personalities to think about their brand early, even if it is not launched until a moment when it can have most impact.

Other tools that can be used to create a personal brand is to think about a sports personality as a cartoon character or imagine a party where different types of people are doing different things – who is the DJ? Who is on the dancefloor?

Even up and coming sports personalities have an advantage in developing a brand. Social media allows sportspeople to communicate directly with fans. Michael Phelps in fact has no website in the traditional sense – instead he uses a platform to aggregate his social media feeds into a single stream.

What wasn’t covered in the presentation was whose responsibility it is to create these personalities. Should sailors be trying to build their brands alone, or should rights holders be asking brand marketing agencies to promote their stars to a wider audience?

More from the World Yacht Racing Forum 2010.[/cleeng_content]