Land Rover has made a commitment use sailing as a key part of their marketing mix. Perhaps the most obvious activation of this strategy to date has been a partnership with the Extreme Sailing Series, which began in 2013 as a ‘toe in the water’ and in 2014 will start to be activated properly. We spoke to Mark Cameron; Global Brand Experience Director for Jaguar Land Rover about how the company got here and what the plans are.
Like many modern day brands, Land Rover makes decisions based on crunching numbers to understand who their customers are, how they think and most importantly – why they buy. Like many brands that understand the power of sports marketing and sponsorship, Land Rover have a wide choice when it comes to spending their budgets. The rights holders that can provide the closest match between audience (fanbase) and customer are the ones that will get the money.
There are two reasons why the data-crunchers said sailing was a good thing for Land Rover. The high proportion of oh high-net-worth followers of the sport and the realities of getting boats to the shore.
For us increasingly its about connecting with customers, particularly those with high net worth – wealthier customers, who are looking for experiences in life, not just material things. Brands connect to those audiences via their passions and by definition, sports sponsorship allows you to do that. Sailing is a good example where high net worth individuals have a passion for sailing in most markets around the world. That gives you a really good platform to talk to those customers and offer them something original, engaging and exciting.
Then when you can bring the product into that story as well – from our perspective, you then make it work really hard for you. The thing about sailing particularly is that at an amateur level, many sailors have a requirement for towing and we believe we make some of the best towing vehicles in the world. So there is a real, hard, truth as well. Our role in sailing at the amateur level delivers sales results.
Which explains why Land Rover would choose the sport, but why choose the Extreme Sailing Series? A simplistic ‘like-for-like’ brand association might make offshore sailing the obvious choice for an off-road vehicle, but marketing is not simple and sponsorship is complicated further by a range of other factors.
There were a few factors. Firstly we had to find something where our competitors weren’t already active – so while Volvo is not a direct competitor, trying to do something in the Volvo Ocean Race would not have worked. And then you go to the other extreme, to what some call the pinnacle of the sport – the America’s Cup, if you are going to come into a sport for the first time in many years, the prospect of doing anything meaningful with the tens of millions required – its probably not a good first step.
So we wanted to find something that, in partnership with the rights holder, we could own and not just be one of 30 other sponsors. But probably the biggest thing was finding something that was going to be truly engaging with audiences and not just sailors and sailing enthusiasts.
Notice that we haven’t mentioned the boats yet. The format of the sailing is an important factor for Land Rover – the ability to power content generation, social media feeds and conversations, but more important is the reach of the product. It is no coincidence that the Extreme Sailing Series will have events in Russia and Australia in 2014. The ability to influence the geographical markets is one of the biggest selling points that rights holders like the Extreme Sailing Series, World Match Racing Tour and to a lesser extent, the Volvo Ocean Race have.
Massively important for Jaguar Land Rover is growth in our export markets, so markets like China, Brazil, Russia and the Middle East and particularly China where sailing is really quite a niche sport still. As we are the main sponsor of the EXSS, we start looking at where the actual Acts take place. Part of our contract is being able to have influence over bringing the EXSS to new cities. So the ultimate benefit is being able to activate markets that are important to us.
As well as sailing, Land Rover will also use Rugby a sponsorship platform.