Strategic thinking

Chasing the American dream – The marketing potential of Sir Ben Ainslie’s new America’s Cup campaign

By 16/06/2014 March 14th, 2018 No Comments

With the recent announcement from Sir Ben Ainslie on leading a British team to an America’s Cup victory in 2017, as expected, there are significant questions poised on everyone’s lips. How will the team fare? How will the boat perform? What supreme tactics will Sir Ben bring to the chart table? You get the idea…

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Image credit: www.benainslie.com

Naturally, through our marketing tinted glasses we’re thinking how can the team leverage their brand in the making to ensure the whole of Great Britain are fully behind them when they cross the first start line 3 years from now.

One advantage of being an island nation is that historically, we naturally have a strong heritage of maritime and sailing excellence. Included within this history is the inception of what became the very first Americas Cup race under the watchful eye of Queen Victoria back in 1851. With this in mind and Great Britain being the home to the oldest international sporting trophy, it’s about time we bought it home.

It’s not surprising given this heritage that Britain has been and is still home to a wealth of successful sailors such as Sir Ben himself, Sir Robin Knox Johnston, and our dear friends Saskia Clark, Hannah Mills and Pippa Wilson. To put it briefly, if BAR racing wanted to choose a team school days style, the playground would be filled with elite sailors.

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Image credit: Forbes

The current high level of British race engineering is highlighted by the F1 world, with eight out of eleven 2014 teams currently based in Britain. We expect a British design force that is globally recognised will also be backing the team. Not to mention that a certain Red Bull aerodynamicist may also be climbing on board…

Considering this, it’s pretty fair to say Sir Ben’s not only a very strong contender for victory, but he also has the ingredients readily available for creating a very powerful brand.

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Image credit: Ben on a Brandwave photo shoot for Henri Lloyd in The Mar Menor 2010

We’re sure there won’t be a shortage of sponsors vying for a position on the boat, given the speculation already who could be lead sponsor. However these sponsors and partners will of course want to see a return on their affiliation with the team. To maximize these opportunities and communicate the extraordinary team and boat in the making, this is where a comprehensive marketing & PR communications plan comes into play.

The marketing efforts of the British team’s conquest of the America’s Cup have already begun and will continue until their hopeful victory in 2017. This is a campaign that should reflect a unified message of a journey to victory, drawing on the incredible story behind the team and the advancements in yacht design.

Sailing will always be considered a niche sport, thought by many as an affluent past time. In some respects this may hardly change in between now and 2017 but there are certainly strong opportunities to connect and extend this reach to an increasing fan base, build awareness of the team and gain support from a wider UK audience.

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Image credit: Brandwave ‘Between The Lines’ Campaign for Henri Lloyd 2010 featuring Ben Ainslie

It’s my hope that this campaign will be reflective of the quest to bring the trophy home, illustrate the wealth of performance on board and highlight the world-class British engineering behind the team. I’m fairly confident that a well executed campaign has the power to tap into the national pride of the British people to get behind the team and journey. This is a campaign that also has the potential to inject high volumes of interest into an evolving marine industry and the brands within this industry. So, this has to be the most exciting thing to happen to British Sailing since Sir Ben won his 4th Olympic Gold in Weymouth, let’s watch this space…

Oliver Robinson

Author Oliver Robinson

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