America’s Cup challenger Emirates Team New Zealand has announced a technology partnership with DELL. It’s a great illustration of how sponsorship doesn’t always have to be a sticker on the side of a hull to have value to both parties.
Some sports marketing pros argue over the differences between a sponsorship and a partnership. Often the difference is just in the definition, but sometimes the sponsorship/partnership arrangement works on levels that are never seen by the spectators.
Consider the biggest costs for an America’s Cup team. Obviously there are ‘rock-star’ salaries. There is logistics and transportation – but to win the America’s Cup, you need computing power.
Commenting on the design of the BMW ORACLE trimaran that won the last Cup, Russell Coutts noted that the designers knew exactly how fast the boat could sail in a particular wind strength and sea-state – even though the sailors on board had to take a leap of faith to get the performance suggested by the modelling. As far back as 1983, when Australia won the Cup from the Americans for the first time, design was the difference.
Getting the most out of a 72 foot catamaran with a wing-sail isn’t something you do on a laptop. The computational grunt doesn’t just require processors, it requires power. By partnering with DELL, Emirates Team New Zealand gets to benefit from processes that have been tested through DELL’s relationship with Lotus F1, but the design side is not the only ‘best practise’ skill that ETNZ get from DELL.
DELL will also advise the Kiwi team on Social Media, something that none of the teams are particularly good at. DELL maintains over 26 Twitter accounts – each aimed at a different segment of the company’s complex market, and the company’s dedicated “Social Media for Business – Powered by Dell” Facebook page has more likes than any yacht racing property (50,455).
But is there more to this deal than will meet the eye of the fans? The technology platform that DELL will provide Emirates Team New Zealand will be a high-performance server cluster which includes:
Dell’s PowerEdge C servers and storage, software and a network optimised for such a configuration. A key feature of its architecture is power efficiency and ultra-density, giving it significant computing capability in a small footprint.
DELL doesn’t just have partners in sport. DELL has business partners that it needs to maintain strong relationships with – business partners like ORACLE. According to the DELL website:
Dell participates in the Oracle® Partner Program at the highest level. …In fact, Dell is the largest provider of Oracle database solutions among Oracle partners. But the true depth of the Dell™-Oracle alliance is best illustrated by the fact that both companies use Dell and Oracle platforms in their operations around the world:
- Oracle develops and tests much of its software on Dell PowerEdge™ servers and relies on more than 20,000 Linux® servers to power key elements of its Global IT operations.
- Dell entrusts several mission-critical business systems to PowerEdge servers running Oracle Database 10g — including its supply chain and its European order management system.
One might imagine that the value of the DELL / ORACLE partnership would be worth several times the budget of an America’s Cup sponsorship. Combine the value of that relationship with the b2b marketing benefits that DELL gets by using Emirates Team NZ as a partner marquee client alongside Lotus F1 and the company is well on the way to getting a return on investment – especially when their contribution to the deal is ‘in-kind’.
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