Campaigns: Corporate/sport - Sailing success story raises Aviva's profile

Campaign: Around Britain and Ireland Record Attempt
Client: Aviva
PR team: Synergy
Timescale: June-July 2009
Budget: £10,000

As title sponsor of the Aviva Ocean Racing campaign, Aviva has supported British yachtswoman Dee Caffari since 2005. By completing the Aviva Challenge (May 2006) and Vendee Globe (February 2009), Caffari became the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in both directions.

Aviva was keen to capitalise on Caffari's increased profile to elongate the campaign and support the migration of its UK brand Norwich Union to Aviva, forming part of the group's 'name change' campaign that took place in June 2009.


- To increase awareness of Aviva within the UK and support the name change campaign

- To strengthen the association between Aviva and Dee Caffari

- To extend beyond the traditional sailing audience.

Strategy and plan

It was decided that Caffari and three other female sailors would embark on an attempt to break the world record for sailing a mono-hull around Britain and Ireland, onboard the yacht Aviva. The previous record was held by an all-male crew.

To add further news interest, one member of Caffari's crew was her only other female Vendee Globe race rival, Samantha Davies, a fellow high-profile British sailor.

A female, non-sailing journalist was invited to spend a day training with the Aviva crew to gain an understanding of the sport, in order to move coverage away from a traditional sailing audience. The world record attempt was sold to media with the all-female hook.

The PR team ran a 24-hour press office throughout the world record attempt, including telephone interviews with the crew, imagery and regular updates that increased in frequency towards the finish in order to drive anticipation.

A tracker showing the exact location of the yacht, compared with the existing record, was created on the Aviva Ocean Racing website.

Measurement and evaluation

In total 100 pieces of coverage were generated over a one-month period.

One-third of these were on TV and totalled 42 minutes of UK airtime.

The BBC covered the world record attempt from departure to completion, and covered the completion live with seven pieces on BBC One's Breakfast programme and six on the BBC news channel.

In total 12 pieces of national print coverage appeared in various publications including The Guardian and the Daily Express.

Seventy-one per cent of all coverage featured a logo or photograph.


Caffari and her all-female crew succeeded in setting a new world record for sailing around Britain and Ireland.

They managed to complete the course 17 hours faster than the previous record.


Gill Gould, Senior partner, Carswell Gould

I have a huge respect for any company that, like us, focuses on return on investment. A £10,000 budget for a campaign resulting in 93:1 ROI has to be music to the ears of the directors.

In terms of picking a personality to affiliate with, Dee Caffari is a top role model and therefore a great choice.

Associating with a world record attempt was a great way to generate coverage and get the Aviva name change in the public domain.

Similarly, by picking a team of female sailors, it meant the campaign was more likely to gain coverage in lifestyle magazines and national newspapers, rather than just the standard sailing press, thus extending its reach beyond the sailing community. However, it is still a sailing story and I'm not sure to what extent people without an interest in the sport would have taken it in. Similarly, it could have excluded male readers. The campaign may well have been targeted at women.

The use of the online tracker was a fantastic way to link to Aviva online and strengthen the association between Caffari and the firm. Live coverage and constant streaming of images are crucial with sailing PR as it is a remote sport and hooking up to blogs and webcams means sponsors can give their market constant information while promoting themselves.

I would be interested to know Aviva's uptake on products and services after this campaign yielded a good percentage of key impact measures in its coverage.

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