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An inside look at signing a sailing sponsorship

by 16 Jan 13:43 PST 17 January 2019
Team AkzoNobel in Copenhagen - 2021-22 Volvo Ocean Race © Thierry Martinez / team AkzoNobel

Sailing and yacht racing website, YachtRacing.Life run by long-time UK sailing journalist, Justin Chisholm has a few tips for those looking for sponsorship generally, and sailing in particular.

Many of the points are not new, as anyone can attest who has read sailing books by those who came from the older school of putting together their own commercial sponsorship programs, without utilising agents and brokers or getting the backing of a sailing friendly billionaire underwriter.

Justin Chisholm was part of the PR team for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race entry Team AzkoNobel.

When it comes to mounting a professional yacht racing campaign the task of finding a commercial partner to help fund it can be every bit as tough as taking on the actual race or event itself.

Nathalie Quéré – global brand director at AkzoNobel and campaign director at team AkzoNobel in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 – who has had plenty sponsorship proposals land on her desk over the years gives some useful insider tips to aspiring campaigners hoping to secure funding from a corporate organisations like hers.

Let me take you on a little journey behind the scenes of a large corporate organisation and try to give you some insight into what the people on the other side of the desk – people like me – might be thinking when they receive a sailing sponsorship pitch.

I often get asked what it is that I think competitive sailing can bring to a big corporation or why it was that a global brand like AkzoNobel chose to go into sailing for the first time with the Volvo Ocean Race.

I was first asked that question more than 20 years ago when I first became involved with the business end of sailing. The landscape back then and the reasons for brands to take on large sponsorship endeavours are very different to what we see today.

Back then sponsorship campaigns often began with an enthusiastic conversation over a glass of wine and were ultimately sealed with nothing more concrete than a warm handshake.

Nowadays, we all know, it is a completely different ball game.

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