"The Volvo Ocean Race is not a conventional sponsorship undertaking. We own the entire competition together with the Volvo Group,” says Karin Bäcklund, manager Volvo Ocean Race Director at Volvo Cars.
When Volvo purchased the Whitbread Round the World Race event in 1997, the move represented a huge investment in the sport of endurance sailing. Now, just over ten years later, with the third Volvo Ocean Race awaiting the starter’s signal, Karin Bäcklund can confirm that it was a highly successful move.
Volvo's core values are interwoven in a natural way with the sport of sailing. The boats used are of absolute world class from both the quality and technical viewpoints, safety is in full focus and the competition setup is environmentally friendly. “Not least important is the fact that sailing is packed with adventure, excitement and strong emotions, aspects of our brand that we want to reinforce," says Karin Bäcklund. “The Volvo Ocean Race is an excellent way of strengthening the brand and doing business with both old and new customers."
Media interest is immense. The previous race was covered in 192 countries around the world, 1,800 million TV viewers followed the event and 17,500 articles were written about the Volvo Ocean Race. Karin Bäcklund expects even higher figures this year. Many people also follow the race on the Internet via the Virtual Spectator program. But it is at least equally important to give the 2.8 million visitors to the race villages in the stopover ports and, in particular, the 5,000 specially invited guests, an experience to remember.
"In addition to seeing our entire model range, people who come to our pavilion get to see how we work with safety, the environment and design in the creation of our cars. There is also the opportunity to test-drive the various models," relates Karin Bäcklund. The focus this year will be on the newest model, the Volvo XC60, and the most recent world innovation, Volvo City Safety, a system that helps reduce accidents at low speeds, for instance in traffic tailbacks or in parking lots. The main target group is customers, the general public and corporate customers who are invited locally, as well as representatives of the competing syndicates such as Puma and Ericsson.
"We can see a clear link between familiarity with the Volvo Ocean Race and buying a Volvo car," says Karin Bäcklund. "The more involved people are in the race, the greater the likelihood that they will choose a Volvo the next time they buy a car."
Ahead of each race, the company also builds specially designed Volvo Ocean Race editions that are built in strictly limited numbers. To coincide with this year's race, Volvo Cars expects to sell 10,000 Volvo V70, Volvo XC70 and Volvo XC90 cars painted in a choice of Ocean Blue or Electric Silver. Many of the interior details are sailing-inspired, such as the zigzag pattern of the leather upholstery which traces its origins in the reinforcement seam on the clew of a sail.
"We are planning a wide range of activities in the various ports," reveals Karin Bäcklund. First off the mark is Alicante, where the start of the Volvo Ocean Race coincides with the launch of Volvo’s latest model, the Volvo XC60 crossover.
Facts, Volvo Ocean Race
The Volvo Ocean Race 2008-2009 is a trans-ocean sailing competition that was previously called the Whitbread Round the World Race. Volvo purchased the competition rights in 1998.
- This is the tenth time the race is being held since the event started back in 1973.
- The race consists of eleven legs.
- Start in Alicante, Spain.
- Finish in St Petersburg, Russia.
- This is the first time the Volvo Ocean Race is stopping in Asia: in Kochi, India, in Singapore and in Qingdao, China.
|Port race Alicante, Spain
|Alicante — Cape Town, South Africa
||Start 11 October 2008
|Cape Town — Kochi, India
||Start 15 November 2008
|Kochi — Singapore, Singapore
||Start 13 December 2008
|Singapore — Qingdao, China
||Start 18 January 2009
|Qingdao — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
||Start 14 February 2009
|Rio de Janeiro — Boston, USA
||Start 11 April 2009
|Boston — Galway, Ireland
||Start 16 May 2009
|Galway — Göteborg, Sweden
||Start 6 June 2009
|Göteborg — Stockholm, Sweden
||Start 14 June 2009
|Stockholm — St Petersburg, Russia
||Start 25 June 2009
|Port race St Petersburg
|7 boats competing|
|Ericsson Racing Team 1
||Skipper: Torben Grael|
|Ericsson Racing Team 2
||Skipper: Anders Lewander|
|Puma Ocean Racing
||Skipper: Ken Read|
||Skipper: To be announced|
||Skipper: To be announced|
|Team Russian Challenge
||Skipper: Andreas Hanakamp|
|Green Dragon Team
||Skipper: Ian Walker|
For more information, please contact Maria Bohlin, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone +46 (0)31-59 65 25.