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20 April 2005, 10:18 am
Sailing Sponsorship
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Ellen MACARTHUR's (GBR) record breaking voyage around the planet was in itself an extraordinary sporting achievement. It also proved the exceptional opportunities sailing events provide sponsors of the sport.
Offshore yacht racing is a mechanical sport, with sophisticated and hi-tech racing boats being the tool of the professional sailor and it exists solely by virtue of commercial sponsorship. The latest Ellen MACARTHUR B&Q/Castorama sponsored campaign has broken more than just on the water records, demonstrating the immense value of a sport that provides excellent uncluttered branding opportunities, a positive natural image and the potential to engage mainstream worldwide audiences - as well as internal teams.

As well as breaking the solo round the world record MACARTHUR's campaign also managed to some other impressive statistics:

· Four minutes national news in the USA on ABC, CNN and NBC (OC Group data);
· 34 million TV viewers watched the finish in Germany (KK);
· Two prime time terrestrial documentaries broadcasted in the UK - ITV and BBC1;
· More than 3000 press articles from more than 20 countries;
· Interest in sailing doubled to 20% (IPSOS UK);
· IPSOS research shows a staggering 57% brand association for B&Q (the best Premier League football shirt sponsorship scores about 26%) and;
· The official website had over 700,000 unique visitors on the finish day, and over 3 million in total over the 71 days.

According to the British branch of multinational market-research organization, IPSOS, 'Ellen MACARTHUR's successful 'Solo Round The World Record' has launched both her and the B&Q sponsorship into the stratosphere in terms of public awareness. Awareness of Ellen grew from an already impressive 70% in … to 86%. This degree of cross age and gender awareness is remarkable … and one would expect put her on the same sort of playing field as people like Tony BLAIR and David BECKHAM.'

David ROTH, the Marketing Director of B&Q, was delighted with the success of the partnership between MACARTHUR and themselves, 'Media return was unprecedented, but what also makes it a real success for us is the empathy between Ellen and B&Q: she represents our philosophy of team work, motivation and goal setting.'

According to Nigel CURRIE, Director of Sports Marketing Agency, GEM Group and Chairman of the European Sponsorship Association (ESA), 'the spectacular level of media coverage attracted by Ellen MACARTHUR over the past few months has alerted sections of the media to the power of sponsorship in a way that no previous single event or occurrence has achieved.'

OC Group (As Amended By ISAF). Image: © Jacques Vapillon/DPPI
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