Featured in the Official Magazine of the Extreme Sailing Series 2011 & 2012
In 2011, the Extreme Sailing Series will visit nine distinct international markets. The event, which has been tried and tested over the last four years, is now in a position to offer global exposure for companies wishing to use this exciting marketing platform to achieve multiple sponsorship goals.
But so what?
It’s the kind of statement that sits in glossy brochures and proposals and means everything – because every word is true, but also means nothing – because if you swapped out Extreme Sailing Series for another sporting or entertainment sponsorship opportunity, then it would also be true.
So what makes the Extreme Sailing Series different?
Before we get onto things like ROI and media value and hospitality opportunities, it’s worth considering another change that has happened recently. OC Events, the organisers of the event are now part of a larger sporting entertainment group – OC Thirdpole. The combined operation manages events like the Biathlon World Cup and exposes operators of the Extreme Sailing Series to best practise outside the bubble of professional sailing and allows sharing of ideas to make all properties better.
But innovation is not new to the Extreme Sailing Series. From day one, the event has been unashamedly about combining sporting excellence with entertainment. Multiple formats have been tested. Rules have been changed. The phrase ‘it can’t be done’ has been met with the response – ‘Why not?’
Why not put a guest on the boat during a points scoring race?
Why not run 20 races a day instead of one or two?
Why not combine sailing with music concerts and DJs?
Why not run races in the heart of cities?
The Extreme Sailing Series has done all of these things to adapt the product to its various audiences, both business and consumer.
While the series began as a business-to-business product, there has always been a focus on making the event attractive to land-based spectators. In 2011, the Extreme Sailing Series will offer even more to the public – because the more people get involved, the better the returns for sponsors and partners.
As Chairman of OC Thirdpole, Mark Turner says:
“The B2B experience is enhanced by the fans being there in bigger numbers because the VIPs feel more like VIPs. The B2B experience is enhanced by the media coverage, and media coverage is hard to get from a pure B2B event because the media need to feel there is a big event going on.”
When it comes to the VIP experience, the Extreme Sailing Series has something that no other sport can compete with – the 5th man seat. It’s just not possible for a guest to ride on the same bike as Valentino Rossi in a MotoGP race. It is unthinkable for a guest to be in the scrum in an international rugby game. Golf can offer the chance to play alongside the best in the game, but the score of the star will not be affected.
Being able to offer guests the chance to sit onboard the boats during points scoring races is unique. For some, it is an unforgettable chance to ride with their sporting heroes, but perhaps it is the guests who have never been sailing who get the most of the experience.
In a world where the power of peer-to-peer recommendation is becoming more important and people are sharing their experiences, often in real-time via the internet, the cumulative word-of-mouth effect of this kind of experience is incredibly powerful.
For some businesses, this ability to interact with a small group of special clients in a unique environment may be enough to justify an investment in the Extreme Sailing Series. A single deal may pay for the sponsorship several times over. Of course different companies do sponsorship for different reasons and a large part of the ROI calculation is based on traditional measures like media value.
In a world where everyone with a mobile phone can be a television producer and global audiences can be reached via sites like YouTube, the measurement of media value is not what it used to be. Until new ways of measuring these new-media platforms can be agreed between rights holders and sponsors, calculations are still based on television and ‘press’.
The organisers of the Extreme Sailing Series have invested heavily in third-party measurement of their media returns. While some sports operators still claim billions of potential television viewers, OC Thirdpole prefer to be realistic about the numbers. This kind of openness and transparency might not get the big headlines in the sailing press, but is welcomed by potential sponsors.
In 2009, Havas Sponsorship Insights conservatively estimated the value of media coverage achieved by the Extreme Sailing Series at €5.9million. The headline figure was a 40% increase in the value of media coverage versus the previous year.
Notable numbers from a detailed report covering six markets in Europe include:
– Over 8h 35 minutes of evaluated TV news (only) broadcasts.
– 894 articles or features evaluated in printed media,
– 770 articles on the internet,
– 149 broadcast features evaluated on TV and radio and
– 228 accredited media attending the seven events (the Paris launch and six event.
Over 535 hours of TV exposure across news and other programming was evaluated alongside print exposure in publications with a cumulative circulation of 82 million.
So as the Extreme Sailing Series adds new territories and becomes an international circuit with nine events, the potential for media exposure increases. Organisers are delivering partners a platform that includes VIP hospitality, event activation to fans and spectators and media coverage on traditional and new-media.
As a product in six European markets, the Extreme Sailing Series represented good value for money as a sponsorship investment. The difference in that investment for the addition of extra events in key markets like China and the USA will be small due to efficiencies developed by organisers through running the series over a sustained period.
If the Extreme Sailing Series was a good deal in 2010, then it is a great deal for 2011 and beyond.