Cowes Week, which was facing the challenge of running without a headline sponsor this year, has been given a reprieve by outgoing sponsors Aberdeen Asset Management
The investment management group’s support officially came to an end after the 2015 event, but with just three months to go until this year’s regatta, it was announced that they were stepping back in as title sponsor. The event is currently on the hunt for a new backer for 2017 onwards.
Regatta Director Phil Hagen, who took over the reins from Stuart Quarrie when he retired last autumn, said that whilst they had “had some positive conversations” in their search for a sponsor for 2016 onwards, organisers had not found a backer that gave them the longevity and brand fit they were hoping for.
“We have had some opportunities that came forward over recent months, but not really of the solid shape that we want to take the event forward where it needs to be. We really decided that it was important to focus on some of the prospects that we’ve got that are much more interesting, and it is taking longer to bring really good sponsors in than it used to.
“We are looking for somebody that’s going to look long term at the event. I think five years is a nice term to have for any sponsor because they build up the benefit of the brand awareness by keeping it going for that length of time.”
Aberdeen Asset Management originally signed up for a three year deal for the 2011-2013 regattas, which was then extended by a further two years to cover 2014 and 2015. Hagen sees this year’s further extension of support as a positive sign, commenting: “Aberdeen were under no obligation whatsoever to come back and support this year. And that’s quite powerful for any future sponsor.
“That shows you the relationship has been a very strong and positive relationship for both parties, particularly commercially for Aberdeen in what has been a terribly difficult time for them.” The week after the plans to back Cowes Week were revealed, the investment group announced a fall in pre-tax profits of 47%, from £185m to £99m in the first half of the financial year, which was put down to instability in emerging markets. Shares in the Plc fell by 7% in response to the results.
Before Aberdeen Asset Management signed up, the Cowes event was held for two years without a title sponsor, following the hugely successful Skandia partnership which ran for 14 years, an almost unprecedented length of time for a sports sponsorship.
Hagen refused to speculate on how long Cowes Week could continue without a title sponsor. While this year’s additional funding will make things more comfortable, he confirmed that 2016 event was never under threat. “Although it’s a supporting package from Aberdeen, and not to the extent that we’ve had in the past, it is going to enable us to provide competitors with the level of experience they expect from Cowes Week both on the water and on shoreside as well.”
This year marks 190 years since the first ever Cowes Week regatta, with racing taking place from 6-13 August across 40 different yacht and keelboat classes. Early bird entry runs until 31 May, enter online at aamcowesweek.co.uk