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.