Can Sunset+Vine|APP Find the Next America’s Cup Personality? 1

There’s been a lot of talk. A lot of talk – about how the America’s Cup will try to lessen the focus on the technology and the boat and try to make the athletes and other actors on the AC stage into personalities. Whether it should be done, whether it can be done will be down to the myriad of communications and PR folk involved.

It’s a debate that happens in all sports and is something that modern athletes might just have to get used to. Jim Andrews, Senior Vice President and Editorial Director of IEG asked in a blog recently:

There is no doubt that high profile athletes on winning teams in major markets must find a way to become comfortable with fan adulation, constant media attention and the other trappings that come along with being famous… but must athletic fame come with a requirement to become a commercial star? And just what does being a commercial star really mean?

…mad sports skills don’t always come with acting chops or a winning personality. But what about those athletes for whom a performance requiring them to show off something other than their obvious abilities does exact a price —despite the income it might also earn them? Do they really have no choice?

Despite the fact that the ‘New Deal’ America’s Cup has spawned at least two new organisations for the management and promotion of the event, the bulk of the communications are coming from ORACLE Racing. Stories that might seem like the responsibility of the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) to tell, are being dropped into the American team’s digest emails.

One of these missives recently announced the commissioning of AC TV – a weekly magazine style show aimed at selling the inside stories and personalities to wider audience. The statement says:

Beginning in July the 34th America’s Cup will be featured prominently around the world in a weekly television program discussing the event, teams and personalities that make the Cup a compelling spectacle.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same. Although Oracle racing asked the Youtube generation to submit innovative film from a slightly different point of view via a video competition last year, the job of creating 98 weekly magazine programs for a potentially new sailing audience has been awarded to Sunset + Vine|APP.

While there is no doubt that the team that produces CNN’s Mainsail understand how to communicate sailing to a mass-market, it seems like another wasted opportunity for the America’s Cup to do something really different rather than just talk about it. Doing the same thing and telling people it is different isn’t going to work.

The brief for the 30 minute programs is to share news, information, behind-the-scenes activity to try to educate and entertain viewers. The program will also give teams a chance to turn their sailors into stars by presenting them to the world.

Is there a sailor who is willing to be a star? Can the same old men be reinvented again and will the new audience relate to them? We will wait and see. The first program goes to air in July.

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  • Lynn

    I have been searching for an Alberto Tomba in the ranks of Olympic and “professional” sailing since 2006 and haven’t found it. Those who are at the top of this sport now are too dependent on the pay check that comes with being a professional. They must tow the party line of their funding source whether it be their federation, their team or their potential next employer. The only personality that I see right now in this America’s Cup is Grant Dalton. There are times when he has to tow the party line, but he usually doesn’t mince words. He wants what is in the best interest of his sponsors, at this point. That means more sailing and a good format. I loved his comment last week about AC45 regattas seeming a bit weak and without a lot of entries. The Cam Lewis of yesteryear would have been great to have in the America’s Cup, but he couldn’t find the backing to get the US Defense Team off the ground.