Complimentary Content: New title sponsor for British America's Cup push

Date: 
20 August 2014

The Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) sailing team will look for a new title sponsor for its inaugural 2017 America’s Cup campaign after the incumbent, financial services company JP Morgan, decided not to continue past 2014.

The BAR team is the UK’s entrant for the next America’s Cup series. It is led by Sir Ben Ainslie, the most successful sailor in Olympic history and tactician for Team Oracle USA during its dramatic victory at the 2013 America’s Cup.

It is understood that New York-based JP Morgan, which has been the title sponsor of Ainslie personally since 2007, and the main global partner of BAR since the team’s launch in January 2012, feels an alignment with a British team against American competitors would not match its brand image.

The team is now looking for a title sponsor on a three-year contract, from 2015 to 2017, at a price of between $++m (€+.+m) and $++m per year.

In 2015 and 2016, the team will compete in the America’s Cup World Series, a two year build-up to the Louis Vuitton Cup, from which teams qualify for the America’s Cup finals in June 2017.

A title sponsor will receive naming rights to the team, 60 per cent of branding on the boat, the largest proportion of team hospitality at up to eight events per year in 2015 and 2016, behind-the-scenes access to the team base, sailors and technicians, and the chance to create content from this.

The team is currently speaking to brands from the financial services, insurance, airline, watchmaking and information technology sectors about the title position.

Talks are understood to be at an early stage – the team only officially launched its America’s Cup campaign on June 10.

2017 push

BAR has set a budget of £++m (€++.+m/$++.+m) for the team over the next three years. Sponsorship revenue will comprise 60 per cent of this, about £++m.

The remaining 40 per cent, about £++m, has been guaranteed by private investors including Sir Keith Mills, who was the deputy chairman for the London organising committee of the 2012 Olympics and is a director at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, and Charles Dunstone, the chairman and co-founder of UK mobile phone retailer The Carphone Warehouse.

There is currently a four-tier structure in place for BAR’s sponsorship offering: one title partner, two second-tier main partners and a yet-to-be-defined number of official suppliers and technical suppliers in the third and fourth tiers. The number of suppliers will be defined by team needs when readying the boat for competition.

Main partner positions cost between $+m and $+m per year. Each main partner receives category exclusivity as well as 10 per cent of branding space on the boat.

Sustainable sailing company 11th Hour Racing has signed as the first main partner and will be known as the Sustainability Partner for Ben Ainslie Racing. As well as receiving the basic rights for a main partner position, 11th Hour will work with the team during the design and build of the boat to manage resources effectively and sustainably.

The value of a third-tier official supplier position varies, with some brands paying cash fees of under $+++,+++ per year, some brands paying entirely in value in kind, and some brands paying a combination of both.

Official suppliers do not receive sector exclusivity as the unpredictable nature of building a competitive boat means that the team may require two brands from the same sector to provide equipment for different parts of the boat, Phil Kennard, commercial manager of Ben Ainslie Racing told Sports Sponsorship Insider.

So far, the team has signed five official suppliers. It will sign as many as it requires.

The Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) sailing team will look for a new title sponsor for its inaugural 2017 America’s Cup campaign after the incumbent, financial services company JP Morgan, decided not to continue past 2014.

Professional services group KPMG is the team’s business development partner and will provide business research and support to the commercial team from 2014 to 2017.

KPMG will create a ‘commercial blueprint’ for sailing and sailing teams that it will look to sell to other sailing and sports teams under a revenue-sharing agreement that forms part of its contract with BAR.

Engineering and electronics company Siemens is the official software supplier from 2014 to 2017 and will provide technology that will track team performance during training and races. The brand will use its Teamcenter software to provide detailed analytics, the same software it uses as green technology partner of the Infiniti Red Bull Racing Formula One team.

All contracts expire at the conclusion of the 2017 America’s Cup finals. However, Kennard said the team was looking to sign brands that have indicated a willingness to commit to a second term. All sponsors signed so far have an option to renew included in their contracts.

Kennard said that the team is speaking to brands with transatlantic interests because the key markets for interest in the team are the UK and the US.

Team base

BAR will build its team base in the UK city of Portsmouth after planning permission was granted this month by city councillors. The build is expected to be complete by Spring 2015.

The city of Portsmouth, where Ben Ainslie Racing will be based
Image: Flickr/geishaboy500 - used under Creative Commons

The team is looking to sell a title partnership position for its base at a price of $+m to $+m per year from 2015 to 2017. A title partner will receive the majority of branding on the base, the highest level of hospitality at the base and the chance to run its own events there.

BAR is also selling foundation partner positions for the base. These second-tier positions will involve a one-off cash fee which will be used to build the base. They will give the brand a lower level of branding than the title sponsor, hospitality and the opportunity to run events.

BAR is also selling a number of base partner positions. These brands will provide value in kind services to run the base such as electricity, water and gas. In return, brands will receive hospitality and the chance to run events.

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