Round the World Race Provides International Marketing Platform, Opportunities for R&D

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The Clipper Race, founded by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (1st man to sail solo, non-stop around world – 50 years ago this week), is a record-breaking 40,000 nautical mile journey around the world. Eleven teams of amateur sailors (i.e. 40% have no previous sailing experience), participate in 4 weeks of rigorous training before embarking on the 8-leg voyage (13-16 individual races); each with a qualified skipper, on identical 70-foot ocean racing yachts. The final leg, of the 11th edition, of the 11-month expedition, starts this morning at 9a from New York City. Fans are welcome to watch the yachts parade past the west side of Manhattan between 10a-10:25a, before they head out past the Statue of Liberty; the procession can be seen along the Hudson on the West side of downtown Manhattan and from the Jersey City waterfront.

Howie Long-Short: The race reaches major markets across 6 continents, making it an attractive international marketing platform to promote brand awareness. Each of the 11 teams has a Team Partner that purchases the rights to name/brand the yacht, giving the business (HotelPlanner.com, PSP Logistics and Garmin), brand (Dare To Lead, UNICEF, NASDAQ) or destination (Visit Seattle, Great Britian, Sanya Serenity Coast, Qingdao, Liverpool 2018) a floating billboard and a unique platform for global activation (see: in-port sailing).

Garmin is the only Team Partner that is publicly traded. The company, best known for its GPS technology, trades under the symbol GRMN. In late April, GRMN reported record revenue for Q1 ’18 with double digit growth in revenue (+11% YoY to $711 million), gross margins (+60% YoY, attributed to segment and product mix) and EPS (+31% YoY to $.68); during what is the “lowest seasonal quarter in the company’s financial year.” Shares are up +1.6% since, closing on Friday at $60.23.

While Team Partners sponsor individual team yachts, Fleet Partners have their logo on every team’s yachts; albeit in a much less prominent location. Dell is among the race’s 5 Fleet Partners and uses their association with the race for product testing, R&D and data collection. As the Rugged Computed Technology Supplier for the Clipper Race, the company outfits each yacht with Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme 14-inch notebooks (meets military-standard requirements) for on board navigation, to keep regulation contact with the Race office and to send back daily blogs, images and video so followers and those at home can follow the action. Unfortunately, none of the Fleet Partners (also includes: Henri Lloyd, Stormhoek Wines, Elliott Brown) are publicly traded.

Fan Marino: As mentioned, HotelPlanner is among the businesses that have a yacht in the race. I stopped by the North Marina Cove on Friday afternoon to have a quick chat with HotelPlanner.com CEO Tim Hentschel to discuss why lifestyle sports sponsorships are outperforming traditional team sports sponsorships.

Fan: How do you justify spending $1.325 million on a Clipper Race Team Partnership?

Tim: We have a lot of different sponsorships in the sports space, because anything that involves sports involves big groups of people. By internet marketing and advertising standards, the cost is very reasonable. We look at the traffic that comes from different articles that get written, the uptick we have in bookings coming from crews and friends of crews, social media engagement and all-in-all we think the ROI is in-line with the other sports sponsorships that we have (think: NFL teams, NBA teams, PBR); we measure them all and we think this one of the better ones.

Fan: Why do you think the return on a sailing sponsorship outperforms a comparable campaign with an NFL or NBA team?

Tim: The other sports sponsorship that we see significant engagement with is the LPGA. Sailing and golf are more than just sports, they’re lifestyles and we see high levels of engagement around lifestyle sports. Lifestyle brands tend to fly under the radar a little bit, so people can follow them, get passionate about them and adopt them. You need to cut through the clutter to get people to engage with you because advertising budgets are so massive and there are so many brands. The demographics of the (sailing or golf) fan can afford to travel and will travel because they’re fanatical about the sport. More and more we’re looking at getting into sports like snowboarding and surfing rather than the big-time events like a Super Bowl.

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