PUMA has picked up the international prize at the European Sponsorship Awards for their PUMA Ocean Racing campaign in the 2008-09 race, the company's first serious foray into sailing.
Entries for the awards were received from 10 European countries and were assessed by an independent panel of expert judges.
The announcement was made at an awards ceremony which was held as part of the annual two-day European sponsorship conference, Future Sponsorship, at the Mayfair hotel in London.
In the international category, PUMA beat off opposition from Vodafone's sponsorship of the McLaren-Mercedes Formula One team which was given second place. PUMA was also highly commended in the business to consumer category which was won by Wrigley's Extra with Coca-Cola second.
PUMA combined competition with consumer activity. While the team's eye-catching Volvo Open 70 il mostro was skippered to second place overall by Ken Read, PUMA City, an innovative retail store constructed from shipping containers, was the centrepiece of retail activity in Alicante and Boston.
Sales in PUMA City on a single day in Boston topped daily sales in any PUMA store ever worldwide.
PUMA launched a full range of clothing and apparel, from offshore sailing gear to onshore lifestyle fashion. The PUMA Sailing Performance collection was developed and tested by the PUMA Ocean Racing team itself, and was worn by the crew throughout the race.
In terms of media value alone, PUMA generated US$49.71 million from television and print exposure, according to a research programme undertaken by IFM Sports Marketing Surveys.
PUMA also engaged consumers through social networking channels such as a blog, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and an iPhone application.
Jochen Zeitz, Chairman and CEO, PUMA described the involvement in the 2008-09 race as "the most innovative marketing campaign the company has ever launched".
"It proved to be an extremely successful starting signal for our sailing category with the investment having been more than paid off," he said.
"While the sport of sailing is often perceived to be very exclusive, PUMA aimed to break down this misconception. The PUMA Ocean Racing campaign has successfully begun to broaden the sports' audiences, with an inclusive, fun outlook on the sport," he added.
PUMA generated significant print coverage pre-race, particularly in lifestyle publications.
Oscar-nominated actress Salma Hayek, il mostro's godmother, christened the boat in Boston five months before the race start. A total of 114 media from 28 countries attended the event.
Over 44,000 customers and PUMA employees were taken for a sailing tour on the boat either before the start or in one of the stopover ports of the Race.
Antonio Bertone, PUMA's chief marketing officer said it was an "honour" to receive the award. "We entered into the sailing category with the overall goal of making sailing inclusive and inviting new people into the sport," he said.
"Our PUMA Ocean Racing team brought sailing to places in the world that have never seen sailing as an extreme, competitive sport. Our entry into the race helped us show the world we're serious about sailing and are committed to this new category."