When we started writing about sailing sponsorship and the business of sailing in 2008, part of the mission was to find best practice. Sometimes this is hard to find, but when you are a brand like Groupama, who have had a long term relationship with the sport, combined with a regulatory framework that doesn’t allow for multi-million dollar campaigns to be signed off on a whim, then its a different story.
In the 4 years that we have been writing about sponsorship of yacht racing, we have never before come across a dedicated ‘sports sponsorship press pack’ from a brand. That’s not to say they don’t exist, but we’ve never been given one.
A lot of sailing communications is about the sailors, the boats and the weather and requests to talk to sponsors is still sometimes met with being added to a generic sailing press-release list. It was refreshing then, to catch up with the Groupama team in Alicante and learn more about why the company continues to invest heavily in the sport of sailing.
Sophie Roy, Sponsoring Chief Officer explained why Groupama had chosen the Volvo Ocean Race as the platform to continue the relationship with Franck Cammas, which is already 13 years old and the clue is in the name of the event.
The objectives for Groupama’s sponsorship programme are to support the group’s international development in new markets. 10,500 of the group’s 38,500 employees work outside of France and non-french business accounts for 30% of the company’s turnover.
In France we a well recognised. But we need to establish the Groupama brand around the world. There is also an internal communications goal – to teach the companies that we have aquired since 2006, about the brand.
Our subsidiaries will be involved in the Volvo Ocean Race and it is important to share a project like this with our employees.
It’s often said that long-term sponsorships work better than short-term deals, and with Groupama committed to two editions of the Volvo Ocean Race, the partnership with Franck Cammas is destined to last at least 18 years. The long term nature of the deal is part of the brand DNA.
We met Franck 13 years ago and we decided to write a story together. It’s very important for Groupama to have a long relationship with our employees and our clients, so establishing a long relationship with Franck helps to establish that image of long term stability.
The Volvo Ocean Race is now THE focus for Groupama. The project is growing – double the size of the maxi mulihull programme and the management of the campaign is a step up for Cammas. The record breaking trimaran Groupama 3 is up for sale – reflecting the size of the Volvo Ocean Race project.
A laboratory for communication experiments.
Groupama’s sailing sponsorship gives it an opportunity to implement multi-targeted communications and media. the company says that in the 7 weeks of the Jules Verne Trophy, there were 40 short programmes, 80 billboards, around 100 press inserts in the local and national media and over 160 radio announcements.
However Groupama says that the sailing sponsorship allows them to test things like “e-communication”, social media, internet, mobile, community networks and Web TV. The goal for the company is to demonstrate an ability to innovate and differentiate itself via an online ecosystem.
The entry of Groupama in the Volvo Ocean Race is important for the race as much as the team. Bringing the massive French offshore sailing audience to the race will benefit Groupama as well as the event.