Why sponsors invest in the Vendée Globe5 min de lecture

Analysis : available in the Bretagne Sailing Valley® News – Newsletter #3 – autumn


Sponsors who are partnered with the 33 2020 Vendée Globe skippers, the solo race round the world are involved for a host of different reasons. Three of them, supporters of Sam Davies, Charlie Dalin and Isabelle Joschke, discuss the reasons why they are involved in this ninth edition and what their expectations are.


Initiatives Cœur is about to take part in their third Vendée Globe, their second with Sam Davies (as in 2016). Theirs is an original sponsorship model which is based on two pillars: the athlete and a cause. Our financial partners are on the one hand sponsors of the boat, they finance the functioning of the technical and sports team, and on the other hand they are all patrons of the Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque association, explains David Sineau, team manager of Initiatives Cœur. These three partners are very different in terms of size and what their targets are. There are two two main co-sponsors, Initiatives, PME based in Le Mans, K-Line, mid-cap company based in Vendée, and an associated sponsor, Vinci Energies, a multinational with a staff of 80,000 people.
What return on investment do they expect, knowing that Initiatives are the naming partner of the boat? “We don’t break it down precisely, but we realize that we are often at the top of the pyramid in terms of media coverage. Now above all the success of the project is measured in its impact to help Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque and so the cause is also the primary motivation of partners”, answers David Sineau.
The impact is real since the operation “1 Click 1 Heart” (each like of the Facebook page – and now today each Instagram account sign up – generates one euro paid to the association by the sponsors) made it possible to operate on 20 children in the first Vendée Globe, 54 in 2016 (including other fund raising Initiatives developed in parallel). The objective this time is to exceed 60 in the 2020 edition. Obviously the sponsors are happy, David Sineau concluding: The best proof is their loyalty. It will be the third Vendée Globe that Initiatives, K-Line have been with us for eight years, they come together because they demonstrate that a company’s requirements are not only purely financial.”

Apivia are a mutual insurance company (a subsidiary of the Macif group) which was launched in 2015. They announced their commitment to the IMOCA class as title sponsor for Charlie Dalin’s Vendée Globe in 2018 “The main reason is that we wanted to boost brand awareness. We were already involved in sports sponsorship, via the rugby club at the Stade Rochelais. But ocean racing and the Imoca class appealed immediately. The values conveyed by this sport are important – commitment, performance, innovation – but also because it allowed us to share the experience of exceptional adventures by gaining access to a four-year racing program including legendary events like the Transat Jacques Vabre, which we won last year, the Vendée Globe and the Route du Rhum “, explains Frédéric Come, customer relationship director of the company.
Even before the start of the Vendée Globe, the results are very positive. This is a huge communication movement: in 2019, we had a return like we’ve never experienced before, around 1,700 media reports for an advertising equivalent of more than 4 millions of euros. These returns manifest themselves in an upturn in insurance contracts, the sales of which escalated from 290,000 to 350,000 in one year, thanks to the launch – in concert with the sailing project – of a new range of products. The goal was also to increase our favourable reputation with brokers, to date, we have are ahead of what we wanted and we hope that things will continue in the Vendée Globe”, continues Frédéric Come. Who, when asked for the amount of Apivia’s investment, replies: “We don’t communicate it, but Apivia has a reasoned approach – we know that if we want a performance, you have to know how to invest – but remaining reasonable, in the sense that I don’t think we have the highest budget in the fleet. But that investment is still commensurate with our objectives.” Which are high.

Already partners to a campaign on the Vendée Globe 2016 alongside Bertrand de Broc, insurance company MACSF are in again for the 2020 edition, this time with Isabelle Joschke. Their investment is increased to around 4.5 million euros on this campaign against 3 on the previous one. “We decided to come back for three reasons: to strengthen our shared internal comms, knowing that there have been many changes following the arrival of Stéphane Dessirier as CEO, to increase the number of members and contracts, all as part of our new strategic plan, and we are recruiting more than 200 people”, explains Eric Mollard, internal and corporate communications director of the mutual fund for health professionals.
They chose ocean racing again (committed until the end of 2021) as MACSF’s main communication vehicle, and, this time, on a woman, Isabelle Joschke, “because 65% of health professionals and our employees are women”, specifies Eric Mollard. The first year of the partnership, in 2019, was essentially about “getting on board internally” by presenting the skipper, the project and their commitment to gender diversity through the Horizon Mixité association. The Vendée Globe partnership is designed to ensure the brand makes a big leap in terms of media coverage, which will be measured. But already, Eric Mollard is satisfied with “the media reach to the likes of – Psychologies, Le Magazine de la Santé on France 5 – which would not normally take an interest in sailing but comes through Isabelle and what she represents.”

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