CAMPAIGNS: Yachting bid profile raised by Orange UK - Sponsorship

Client: Orange UK
PR Team: Karen Earl Sponsorship
Campaign: UK visit of Orange, the maxi-catamaran
Timescale: August 2002
Budget: Undisclosed

Orange is the name of a maxi-catamaran, one of the world's largest multi-hulled vessels, which currently holds the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe.

The boat's sponsor, mobile phone company Orange UK, hired Karen Earl Sponsorship (KES), which has worked on a number of similar projects, to maximise media exposure for the boat's visit to the UK last August. It came here to go for another record - the Round Britain and Ireland - which stood at five days and 21 hours, set by Steve Fossett in 1994.

For the attempt, Orange was skippered by Frenchman Bruno Peyron, along with British co-skipper Neal McDonald. Next year, Ellen MacArthur will use the boat, by then renamed Kingfisher 2, to challenge the Jules Verne record.

Objectives

To generate targeted media coverage of the Orange catamaran visit to the UK, expanding the reach beyond what would normally be expected for such a story. To build excitement for the Round Britain and Ireland challenge by emphasising immediacy of coverage through use of technology.

Strategy and Plan

On 1 August, a press release was issued about the visit and Round Britain and Ireland record attempt to UK media. It carried details of the 13-man crew, which included five British and Irish nationals. A range of print, broadcast and online media was then invited to Cowes, Isle of Wight, for a day's sailing on Orange. The idea was to give writers an idea of the size of the boat, and to inspire them through seeing its design and living conditions at first hand.

Invited journalists from the Manchester Evening News - whose involvement was seen as significant since Manchester is not a town with a maritime tradition - BBC South, CNN and Yachting World came along.

On 10 August, two days before the record attempt started, a Video News Release was sent out which carried interviews with the skipper Peyron and MacArthur, the owner-in-waiting.

The yachting correspondent of The Times was invited to join the crew for the attempt, along with a producer/presenter for specialist sailing TV production company APP Broadcast, who produced and fed back regular news material to the media, via the boat's onboard communications system.

A specialist sailing photographer was commissioned to take shots of key moments, such as the arrival and departure of Orange, for distribution to the media.

Once the voyage began on 12 August, tailored Video News Releases - for example focusing specifically on an Irish crew member on the Ireland leg - were sent to TV stations along the route. Audio conference calls were held with the skipper, navigator and other crew members twice a day.

Radio journalists could join in on these, as well as doing other live radio interviews along the route.

Digital images from on board the boat were sent via satellite to KES, and then distributed regularly to picture desks. Orange also created an internet microsite, www.orange.co.uk/sailing, which tracked the position of the boat every three hours.

It also contained KES press releases, crew e-mails, photos and audio reports throughout the attempt. In addition, users of Orange mobiles received text messages on the progress of the attempt.

Measurement and Evaluation

In all, there were 45 pieces of TV coverage on the attempt itself, which included a feature on BBC Grandstand. CNN had three spots on the catamaran, while Sky News and regional stations also covered it.

The pre-attempt Video News Release was featured on Sky News, Meridian South, BBC South and Central TV.

There was daily coverage in The Times and ten more articles in other national newspapers. There were also nine radio pieces and more than 40 stories on various websites. A promotion to win a day's sailing on board Orange was negotiated with The Times.

Results

Despite missing out on the extra layer of media interest that would have been generated by a successful attempt (Orange missed the record by an hour), and the fact that there were limited numbers of British and Irish crew on board the vessel, coverage for the attempt across UK media was overwhelmingly positive (93 per cent).

The seven per cent which was unfavourable focused on the boat's failure to break the Round Britain and Ireland record, although Orange as a brand was not criticised.

KES has calculated that coverage reached 21 million adults, with 71 million 'opportunities to view'. Branding of Orange was strong throughout coverage.

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