Sailing has become a popular platform to promote travel destinations in recent years. On one side of the deal, promoters of events like the Volvo Ocean Race, Extreme Sailing Series and even Clipper Race bring teams, media and spectators to a venue and showcase it to a targeted audience. On the other side, destinations activate their involvement in the event, promoting it and integrating it into their marketing campaigns. This might even include sponsorship of a team within the event.
It’s a model that works nicely, but some destinations do the activation and promotion bit better than others. Just as PUMA woke up the sailing market with it’s approach to activating sponsorship in the last Volvo Ocean Race, Abu Dhabi are showing other destinations just how sailing and travel and tourism go together.
Last week, at the newly titled Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, several brands upped the game when it came to cross-promotion and activation. Both Abu Dhabi and Oman were promoting their involvement in sailing, but also their travel products.
As the Abu Dhabi sponsored Volvo 70 Azzam charged up and down the Solent in strong winds, on shore spectators were being educated about the destination, the culture and of course the Volvo Ocean Race stopover.
This was smart activation – models of the race village at the center and sailing related sail raising competitions, but other activities to inspire and educate. Queues lined up to have their names etched in calligraphy (in Arabic) while others waited to have henna designs applied to their hands.
And if that wasn’t enough, Fern and Ying – two peregrine falcons captured the imagination of old and young, male and female.
And while some of the visitors will walk away with a keepsake or a great photo, others will have been engaged via social media.
The Volvo Ocean Race is more than a competition on the water. There is also competition for the hearts, minds and disposable income of fans. So far, Abu Dhabi is well ahead in the latter race.