The BT Global Challenge knows how to attract British media coverage but
it must do more to interest the rest of the world, says Paul Vaughan, a
board director of API Consulting
The BT Global Challenge is not just another sailing event, it is an
adventure. In terms of exploitation and delivery it needs a lot of help
in ensuring that it reaches a wide audience.
The Challenge is a massive promotional vehicle, the issues are how to
deliver a PR and marketing benefit. On a PR level, the main problem is
delivering what can be perceived as a British event in a global context.
From its involvement with the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989/90,
which continued through to 1993/94, BT’s current status as title sponsor
has resulted from a need for higher profile from an event with a similar
scale and imagery.
The basis of the event is to take the man or woman off the street and
into an adventure ‘that will change their lives’. The rest of us wait
for stories of hardship and daring from the fleet as it sails the ‘wrong
way’ around the globe. Added to the ingredients are a couple of trump
cards - charity boats and a disabled crew, all designed to amplify the
principle storyline of man versus the elements and the emotion that it
Nor must one forget the odd joumalist travelling as crew. Michael Calvin
led the way four years ago and delivered a stunning insight to the
event as well as good and continuous coverage of the Race. His exciting
and award-winning reports generated a substantial awareness of the
Then there are the boat sponsors, of which there are many, but who are
in a position to amplify the overall race coverage as well as generating
their own messages. Rather than clutter, associated sponsors increase
the awareness of BT through individual promotions and mechanics around
the title event.
The build up over the last couple of years has been pretty constant
within the specialist press, although sporadic within the mainstream.
The short-term build up to the start and the gun itself fired by HRH The
Princess Royal generated enormous coverage in UK media, but was thinly
If UK coverage is what everyone involved is looking for, the Race has
the potential to be a great success. The ingredients are there and there
are another ten months to run. The proof will rest with the agencies
employed to keep it alive and well before the homecoming later next