Sponsorships come and go. While it is true that long term partnerships deliver better returns than short-term sponsorships, even the most successful deals come to an end.
Many outlets reported the news that Veolia Environnement has ended its partnership with Roland Jourdain with horror – but while hugely dissapointing for Bilou and his team, the deal has been one of sailing’s most enduring partnerships of recent times and should be held up as a case-study of how the sport can deliver in the worst of times.
In fact, it is testament to the belief Veolia Environment has in the sport, that the company has backed Open 60 and MOD70 campaigns through a time when its share price has fallen from around 60 euros in 2008 to around 8 euros in January this year. The company’s stock is down 60% on last year, so despite still having a market capitalisation of nearly 4.7 billion Euros, expediture on sports sponsorship might be seen by some as not the best use of money.
Its times like these that we are reminded that teams of this sort are not just the person driving the boat, but a group of hard-working specialists who live and breathe competitive sailing who will be affected. From that point of view, the end of a sponsorship deal like this is a blow to the sport.
But perhaps some comfort can be taken from another sport, which suggests that there is still a healthy appetite for sponsorship.
Unilever is not normally a company that does sponsorship deals with sports like F1, but last week, the Lotus Formula One team – formerly Renault – announced that two Unilver brands would sponsor the team in 2012.
Rexona, the deodorant brand known as Sure in the UK, Degree in the USA, and anti-dandruff shampoo brand Clear will be on the cars driven by Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.
Pablo Gazzera, Rexona’s global brand vice president, said:
“Rexona for Men has a perfect fit with Formula 1: both stand for passion, ambition and excellence in performance. We empower our consumers to be daring, to be adventurous and push the limits, offering the best protection throughout the day. We tap into our consumers’ passions – cars, sports, extreme adventure – in order to engage with them.”
Francois Renard, Clear’s global brand vice president added:
“By partnering with Formula 1, we will provide our consumers the chance to see and live the winning impact that a high efficacy, high precision, high performance brand like Clear Men can offer them.”
Both these statements could just as easily have been written for a sailing campaign.
But don’t go banging on the doors of Unilever’s other brands just yet. While the FMCG giant is sometimes better known for its soap powders and food and drink brands, Rexona is one of the company’s cash-cows. The deodorant is high margin with large market share in many countries, often funding the marketing budgets for many other brands in the Uniliever portfolio. So the brand has the budget, where others might not.
Unfortunately, while parts of sailing aspire to be like F1, the offer to sponsors still falls short in many areas. In other parts of the sport, there is incredible value for money, but in a time where every cent of marketing spend is under scrutiny the pitch has to be perfect.