How a sponsor benefits from disaster

Published on January 2nd, 2015

While no team would purposely crash into a reef, the accident by Team Vestas Wind during the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race has drawn an epic amount of media attention. Much like when Oracle Team USA capsized under the Golden Gate Bridge while training for the America’s Cup, the mainstream media loves sailing… disasters.

But from a sponsor’s perspective, positive exposure depends not on the incident but the outcome. Team Vestas Wind CEO Morten Albæk believes that any sponsor value gained will not stem from the November 29th grounding in the Indian Ocean, but from getting his team back into the race.

“If the story of Team Vestas Wind ended on that reef, there would be no value. But now that we are striving to return to the race, and make a comeback that many people did not believe to be possible following the accident, there is now a lot of reputation and brand value to be captured. But I must emphasize, and this is to put my skipper under some pressure, any great comeback is a comeback which occurs when nobody believes you can get back and you do well.

“For our sponsor group to make this situation into a great branding success, we need to get back, we need to sail fast, and we need to give the other teams a tough race to the finish. If that is achieved, then whether you are Powerhouse or Vestas, you have a lot of value to capture. But if we didn’t make any comeback, then having a team with my brand name on it that was more known for hitting a reef than for sailing, would have no value. But now we have a lot of value to capture because we are going to make a comeback that has not been seen in sailing sport for decades.”

After removing the boat from the reef on December 21st, the boat is being transported to Persico Marine in Italy for repair. Persico, a member of a consortium of four boatyards that were involved in the Volvo Ocean 65 build process, will seek to have the boat race-ready for the final two legs of the 9-stage race, with the eighth leg beginning early June in Lisbon, Portugal.

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