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Vendée Globe: How to promote the world’s most ambitious yachting race

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04 December 2012 | Vendée Globe,Feature

Vendée Globe: How to promote the world’s most ambitious yachting race

Vendée Globe is the world’s only single-handed non-stop round-the-world yacht race. As a major three month sporting event, it presents interesting challenges to those promoting and financing it. In an exclusive piece for SportsPro, Antoine Robin, director of communication & partnerships, Vendée Globe, discusses how this year it has turned to new media to overcome these challenges.

Vendée Globe operates a sponsorship business model. To fund the race we need sponsors and so we need to ensure our sponsors get value for money. Maximum exposure to the race is therefore absolutely key to our strategy.

To this end, we give our content away for free – but the challenge is getting people to watch it. This means we have to ensure it is distributed through appropriate channels and is compelling enough to attract viewers.

In the past we have focused on getting our content onto TV channels as well as partnering with sailing sites. We had some official partnerships and our distribution partner worked to ensure maximum TV pickup.

This year we have entered into a partnership with video sharing site Dailymotion. This gives us freedom to distribute content however we want. We can get content up quickly and can offer as much as we want, when we want to. And our viewers also have the freedom to watch the bits that most interest them at a time convenient to them.

The first challenge for publicising such a large scale event is gathering the content. To gather this, each yacht is fitted with three HD cameras and a device to send content by satellite. In advance of the race, participants must agree to send three videos per week. Once sent the team has 90 minutes to approve, then the video goes up, providing slick, almost real time coverage.

Working with a production company we then produce daily, weekly and monthly reports which are also put online and made available to other outlets via out distribution partner.

We continue to offer this content as widely as possible, but the partnership with Dailymotion has been a real breakthrough in distribution.

Social media has many advantages. The distribution is easy and low cost – simply a case of uploading a video. We know what we are putting out there and we are not limited by TV channels which can shorten or pull news at the last minute. We also have access to proper analytics so we can see how many hits we get and how it’s broken down, which helps us evaluate the success and tailor future content.

And the results so far have been very impressive. We have received far more views than we expected - 10 million in a month. Our primary audience is still in France, but we have received good views outside and we hope we will get more interest, particularly from Britain as the race progresses.

Of the social media partners available, we chose Dailymotion specifically as they proposed some interesting solutions. We were free to organise our channel as we wanted to. They treated us as a valued customer, and they worked with us to promote our content effectively.

Some of the other big video sites weren’t interested in what we wanted – they just offered a generic platform.  With Dailymotion we feel there is a real partnership.

And this partnership is symptomatic of a wider shift. Social media is simply easier, more cost effective and more practical than traditional broadcast. In the past we have had to make a real effort to distribute videos throughout the world, now we can do it all on one site.

We are now about half way through the race and the content distribution has been a great success. The overall goal is to make sure our current sponsors are happy and to attract new sponsors, particularly from other sailing countries such as the UK, USA and Canada. To do this we need to get their attention and show them how much exposure they could get by sponsoring the race. The results so far seem very promising.

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