CAMPAIGNS: Sponsorship - Plain sailing for yacht sponsors

Client: Royal and SunAlliance

Client: Royal and SunAlliance

PR Team: Atkinson Courage

Campaign: Tracy Edwards MBE and the Royal and SunAlliance Challenge

Timescale: February 1997 to September 1998

Budget: pounds 425,000

Tracy Edwards is an experienced sailor who approached sponsorship

specialists Atkinson Courage with the idea of assembling an all-female

sailing crew to tackle a series of sailing records. The crowning glory

of the series would be an attempt for the Jules Vernes trophy, awarded

to the crew which circumnavigates the globe without a break. Atkinson

Courage brought insurance firm Royal and SunAlliance on board to sponsor

the crew, the boat and the various record-breaking attempts.


To exploit Royal and SunAlliance’s sponsorship of the various

record-breaking attempts, by winning branded consumer media editorial

exposure in all its main world-wide markets.


Sailing on a 92-foot long catamaran named the Royal and SunAlliance,

Tracy Edwards and her team began their series of record attempts with a

Transatlantic crossing and around the UK and Ireland. The Atkinson

Courage team used these attempts to build interest in the ultimate

challenge, the non-stop around the world attempt.

The build up to this challenge included receptions in New York and Monte

Carlo, appearances at the London and Paris Boat Shows, a farewell

reception at the House of Commons and an appearance at an England rugby

international at Twickenham.

Atkinson Courage worked with PR partners across the world -Whyment

Consulting in Australia, the Rowland Company in New York and Grayling

Paris - to ensure that all opportunities in the key markets were fully

exploited by those who had local knowledge. The agency also negotiated

deals to form media partnerships with non-competing media. In the UK

these included ITN, the Mail on Sunday, Blue Peter and Radio 5 Live. In

addition, the BBC filmed a documentary.

The Royal and SunAlliance was on track to break the world record when on

the 43rd day of the voyage, disaster struck in the early hours of the

morning. The boat’s mast snapped in half, putting an end to the non-stop

round-the-world record breaking attempt. The sudden end to the voyage

made front-page news worldwide.


In the UK, Atkinson Courage’s media partnerships worked especially well,

with the Mail on Sunday covering the story with double page spreads

every week for five weeks running. Along with ITN, it sent a reporter

specially to cover the arrival in Chile.

The agency has had in-depth analysis of the campaign carried out by

Sports Marketing Surveys (SMS). Using strict criteria - only counting

coverage where there was either a brand mention or a completely

unobscured brand visual - SMS found that to June this year, Royal and

SunAlliance had received coverage in 1,684 national newspapers and

magazines, 1,520 regional newspapers, 312 TV news broadcasts, adding up

to some five hours of coverage, 65 TV features and profiles (three hours

and 15 minutes) and 352 national radio broadcasts across the key

markets, as well as significant coverage in non-key markets.

Spontaneous brand awareness of Royal and SunAlliance as a leading

international insurer has increased from three per cent to eight per

cent. The team is still awaiting ratings results from the BBC

documentary, screened at the beginning of October, but provisional

viewing numbers are estimated at three million.


Good planning by Atkinson Courage, and a stroke of good luck that the

round-the-world attempt didn’t end very early on, ensured that what

could have been seen as an abject failure was reported as an heroic


As the analysis of SMS reveals, this sponsorship was exploited to the

maximum, ensuring that in terms of PR it was a huge success.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in