Gary Jobson delivered an interesting presentation the other day to an event titled ‘unfurling opportunities’ in San Francisco, the host city for the 34th America’s Cup. The aim of the speech was to give some insight into how local businesses and the city can make the most of the opportunity of playing host.
There is no doubt that there is opportunity. The physical setting is one thing, but hospitality reaches further than just the race village, and if ordinary people are going to be enthused then there are some things that have to happen.
Jobson thinks that people will come to San Francisco to watch the America’s Cup, but he has some thoughts on what will make the sport more compelling. To the assembled crowd he advised having a team to cheer for or against. While there is some patriotic element to who to cheer for, this advice begs the question which teams are doing the best job of making themselves ‘cheer-able’.
Jobson also hopes that the racing will be close. Comparing the America’s Cup to the Superbowl, he said that the best games were the ones where the result was still in doubt with just 2 minutes to go. He said that if we see lead changes then it will be interesting.
There is evidence that the America’s Cup Event Authority have got the race format bit looking exciting, but the Cup has always been about personalities and Gary Jobson says that the next event needs some compelling personalities that are larger than life. While he says that we can’t predict what characters are going to come along, he suggests that the balance isn’t quite right yet. Specifically he said:
“The winning athletes are going to be the ones that are fun, colorful, engaging and non- scripted.”
The way in which San Francisco gets behind the event is also important. Jobson saus that to get something out of the opportunity, you need to puts something in – to be clever and engaged. He used the example of Fremantle to show that the Australians used the chance to host the cup to promote Australia. He says Australia benefited for years afterwards.
But to gain the most out of being host city, the people of the city have to decide how to play it. The city needs to be accomodating and welcoming. San Francisco needs ambassadors to get America to come and see the races, but they also need to be selling a good time.
Whether the America’s Cup will work in such a big city remains to be seen. Jobson notes that in small host cities like Fremantle and Auckland, the America’s Cup dominated. In Valencia, there were perhaps half the population who had no idea what was going on and in San Diego, the event got a bit lost.
Whether or not the 34th America’s Cup will be a ‘sidebar’ event will depend on how the city reacts. Wil there be signage at the airport? Will the cab drivers ask “are you here for the America’s Cup?”
Jobson thinks that with Silicon Valley nearby, the cup will be exploited in ways that perhaps can’t be imagined, but he stresses that the sales pitch should be about fun. This is not the tone of communications to date.
Watch Gary Jobson’s presentation
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