As a fledging automotive writer, I haven’t been to many car launches, but I suspect that advising invitees to take a sea sickness tablet doesn’t happen all that often. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for a car’s ride and handling, is it? But on the night before I crossed the Solent in a Volvo Ocean Race yacht, all became clear.
“A sailor, or someone actively involved with sailing, is seven times more likely to buy a Volvo than the average man in the street.” Of all the things I heard during the Volvo Model Year 12 launch last week, this was the comment that had the most impact. Someone involved with sailing is SEVEN times more likely to buy a Volvo. Wow.
Of course, this didn’t happen by accident. Volvo has a deep and ingrained relationship with sailing in the UK and has done so since 2001 when it launched Team Volvo For Life. In short, Volvo invests in a group of top British athletes and helps them to achieve their Olympic dreams.
With less than a year to go until London 2012, it looks likely that Volvo has picked a winning team, including triple gold medalist, Ben Ainslie. Good work.
Apparently Volvo has a simple approach to deciding on new sponsorship opportunities. Duncan Forrester, Head of Public Affairs, Events & Sponsorship, calls it ‘DISC‘ – ‘Does It Sell Cars?‘, “sponsorship should be done for a reason and not a token gesture”. Eleven years after making the decision to invest in British sailing, you could hardly call Volvo’s efforts a token gesture. It isn’t just about Olympic athletes either as Volvo invests heavily in youth sailing too. Makes sense doesn’t it? After all, as Volvo puts it, “sailing is ingrained from an early age”. If their parents drive Volvos and the brand identity is plastered all over the marina and boats, then something is going to stick. You could say that it is seven times more likely to stick.
The Volvo and sailing relationship feels authentic too – whether it’s towing a dinghy to the marina or being used to transport equipment. Other than Land Rover, I can’t think of another manufacturer I’d associate with coastal pursuits. The last time I looked, we lived on an island, so Volvo must be rubbing its hands with glee. Don’t forget, there are 101,040 members of the Royal Yachting Association alone. That’s a sizeable captive audience. No wonder Volvo offers RYA members a 17.5% discount.
I’ve heard the word ‘bandwagon’ used an awful lot recently, with lots of companies clambering to get a piece of London 2012 action, or more locally, attach themselves to the America’s Cup. But with BMW having spent £30m to be a Tier One sponsor of London 2012, I think Volvo will be feeling pretty smug as the Team Volvo For Life crew wander around the Olympic Village in full Volvo regalia.
PetrolBlog will return to matters of a four wheel nature shortly, including a review of some of the Volvos I drove over the couple of days. One of which had a Polestar badge…ooh!