Sponsorship with a professional athlete can provide a brand with association to his or her image, but also to their particularly intense lifestyle.
Supporting a man, woman or team on their journey as they push back the limits, whether on a clay court, on hallowed turf or on the floor of a gymnasium, is possible. And giving engineers the opportunity to create extraordinary machines for top pilots, or backing adventurers on their unprecedented epic voyages through a sometime hostile environment, that too is possible
A sailing sponsorship programme in an offshore racing circuit within the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championships is a little of all those things. Getting involved with these sailors who race on the globe’s oceans aboard 18-metre prototype yachts, either single or double-handed, is often an opportunity for a company to bring together high-level sport, technology, and human adventure. Many brands and companies, catering to a wealth of different audiences, have chosen this vast field of expression.
Among the recent newcomers: MACSF, OTIO (HBF group) – BASTIDE, QUEGUINER Matériaux, SMA and VENTO DI SARDEGNA
Prior to the IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship, these sponsors were taking things step by step. MACSF, OTIO-BASTIDE, VENTO DI SARDEGNA initially led a campaign that focussed on La Route du Rhum, while QUEGUINER Matériaux and SMA competed in the Figaro Bénéteau II circuit (10-metre one-design yachts). These first moments spent with their skipper, these first exchanges, this first media exposure, have convinced them that it was worth taking the story to next level.
It has to be said that the success enjoyed by the FONCIA group with Michel Desjoyeaux, and MACIF with François Gabart – winners of the Vendée Globe 2008 and 2012 respectively – gives you some idea of the return on investment that can be made. Beyond their ability to bring in-house teams together, reputations can soar. MACIF – France’s third biggest insurer before the start of the round the world in November 2012 – was widely acclaimed and acknowledged as the country’s number one insurer after their skipper’s victory in January 2013, a result which testifies to the positive public opinion of daring brands that take up courageous challenges and place their trust in a sailor and his team to succeed. And it’s not only the winner who touches people’s hearts, since we can all be moved by a particular story and support a given sailor, team, and boat, whatever the scoreboard says. Indeed, it is not uncommon to see the same crowds flocking to welcome home sailors at the back of the fleet as those who were first across the finish line!
SMA and MACSF, two leading insurers speak out
SMA – the mutual insurance company actively involved in brokerage and life insurance and number one in public buildings and works sector in France, has put sailing at the core of its communication strategy through their involvement with the young and talented Paul Meilhat. “It may seem rather an ambitious programme to go from a Figaro project to the big league in the space of one year. However, for a group like ours, which is clearly positioning itself from a development point of view, this sponsorship is a great way to take our company’s ambitions forward,” explains Didier Ridoret, SMABTP President. SMAvie President, Patrick Bernasconi, takes this further: “This is a novel approach for us, but we’re already getting a feel for the extent of the support within the company. Paul’s personal qualities, the strength of his team, and our desire to pull off this challenge have done the rest. We’re at an important stage in SMA’s development and getting involved in this project is also about working towards significantly raising our profile.
Committed to competitive sailing back in the seventies, MACSF has made a major comeback through its support of Bertrand de Broc, a familiar face on the racing scene. For the insurer of health professionals which is looking to establish its position as leader, the objective is clear: bringing clients together around this meaningful challenge. Stéphane Dessirier, CEO of the MACSF group, explains: “Following on from the Route du Rhum in 2014, we’ve decided to get involved in a new project by being at the start of some major races with Bertrand de Broc. However, we’re not setting sail on our own! We’ll be with health professionals everywhere who are big sailing fans. This boat is their boat, this project is their project.”
OTIO-BASTIDE, QUEGUINER Matériaux, meetings that matter
The HBF Group and their OTIO brand – specialists in electrical equipment and home automation – and the BASTIDE MEDICAL group, a major protagonist in the home healthcare sector, have joined the endearing Mediterranean sailor Kito de Pavant. These companies are convinced that this sailor with his experience, his talent and his personality, is the perfect ambassador for their teams and clients alike. Sailing and especially an offshore race boat which navigates some of the most extreme maritime deserts on the planet, is also a fantastic laboratory. Indeed, this is invaluable and the project has as much to do with testing the resistance of certain electrical equipment produced by the HBF group, as it has with rallying together doctors who are experts on sleep, nutrition or other medical aspects, to carry out studies that may go on to benefit patients suffering from pathologies coming under BASTIDE MEDICAL’s various areas of expertise.
For Queguiner Matériaux, a family business with a strong presence in North-West France and specialising in building materials, a sailing adventure alongside Yann Eliès is based on a strong relationship with the CEO Claude Queguiner, who has created a truly multifaceted project. “The desire to really strive for something and forge ahead are values which we share with Yann,” he admits. “We want to show that where there’s a will, there’s always a way. The group is entering a period of transfer to the next generation. Getting involved in this project is a powerful sign for my associates and my children.” Indeed, prior to handing the company down to his two sons, Claude Queguiner was keen for each of them to be responsible for a powerful project. As such, Bertrand manages the company which owns the sponsorship project ‘Queguiner Voiles & Océans’, whilst Clément is vice-president of IRTMS, a biotechnology laboratory aimed at blood disease which has been jointly created by Queguiner and the Fédération Leucémie Espoir. Moreover, the name of this leukaemia foundation and its four-leaf clover logo accompany Yann Eliès on his Queguiner sails!
MARION CARDON – Communications Manager