Present and future of the Audi MedCup Circuit

The Audi MedCup Circuit is the world's leading regatta circuit, not just because of the quality of the sailors competing in the TP52 Series and GP42 Series but also for support network around the Circuit. Fernando Íñigo, Marketing and Communications Director of the Circuit, looks over the present and furture Audi MedCup Circuit concept and reaveals the values that provide interest for sponsors and media.

The Audi MedCup Circuit is a series of five regattas of five days in five venues of four countries throughout five months. That’s the official introduction of the world’s leading regatta circuit, but behind those words there is way more. One of the most complete websites in the World of sailing, with information in six languages (English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Russian), a great travelling race village, an exclusive VIP hospitality programme and a very complete activities programme for the public are just some of the elements on the Circuit. Fernando Iñigo, Marketing and Communications Director for the Audi MedCup Circuit and Grupo Santa Monica gives us an insight on what goes on behind the scenes…

Audi MedCup: How has the Audi MedCup Circuit developed in relation to what you had hoped for at the start of the season and how close is what we have to what you had hoped for? What have been the particular successes and what has been the feedback from the cities/venues?
Fernando Iñigo: “ The people really like the public village, which the local organisation, the venues and local authorities help to promote through the activities of the Audi MedCup, bringing it all closer to the local population and visitors. That’s something new in 2009, and is an idea that comes from our experience –Santa Mónica Sports– in football, where we have the ‘Club Selección’ related to the Spanish National Selection, a series of activities opened to the public prior to any football match where the Selection plays. We decided to add this idea to the Circuit, and in both cases it has proven to be a real success.  We are working to create more content for the race village and to be able to follow racing live from the village. 

In general, the interest of the media following the Circuit has reached the goals and has been increasing, especially on the international television front, like there is now an agreement with Eurosport and CNN are broadcasting then there is more interest from local media at each venue. In Spain, for example, we have broadcast agreements with the main TV channels –most importantly TVE, Canal 9 and TeleMadrid– and newspapers –ABC, Marca, El Mundo,...–. The value of the media impact has been growing since we joined the Circuit; considering the six target markets, in 2007 we had around 12.5 million euros, in 2008 around 18.3 million and our goal for 2009 is 23 million –excluding internet coveraget–.

We are also very happy with the evolution of the VIP Experience day and have had some great feedback from the VIP’s as one of the best products there is from the sponsor’s point of view.”

AM: How do you convince a sponsor to join the Audi MedCup Circuit?
FI: “ The Audi MedCup Circuit is got a great balance between investment, media impact –return–, brand exposure, brand association, and Public Relations return. I would also say that it is very unique in some of those aspects in the sports’ arena. In order to make that information credible, we contract the best companies in auditing and measuring the information and numbers, not just in terms of quantity, but also in quality. From their data, we calculate the Circuit’s Return On Investment (ROI). That term means the ratio of money gained on an investment relative to the amount of money invested. In general, when that ROI is bigger than 1,2 (120% of the investment) it is considered very good, and when is bigger than 2 (200% of the investment) it is considered Excellent; I can tell you that Audi ROI vastly surpasses the 200%.  That ratio is very attractive to any sponsor.”  

AM: Commercially this must have been a tough season to keep the Audi MedCup Circuit at the forefront of world sailing?
FI: “ This year has been a great challenge from the commercial and organisation point of view and we have to invest money in order to not only maintain the level, but also to increase the level with things like the public village, the Virtual Eye and the web site in all six languages. I am sure this will allow us to attract more teams to the Circuit and also more sponsors both for the Circuit and for individual teams.”

AM: What has been the audience and feedback like for the investment in the Virtual Eye viewer and bringing the racing live to the spectator and web viewer?
FI: “ It is without doubt one of the best evolutions of the Circuit, we have been reaching our maximum with more than 1000 connections each day in each of the two languages, the system is evolving constantly.”

AM: What do you hope for the future of the Circuit?
FI: “ From the marketing and communication point of view the circuit is on an upward trajectory it is one of the big sports circuit events in Europe now, with good feedback from the media and with excellent support from the Cities and the regional authorities. One of the aspects we want to help with is to see the individual teams consolidate and grow, we want to help with the marketing strategies in order to keep improving the return on investment for sponsors.”

AM: What has been the feedback on the integration of the GP42 Series?
FI: “ It has been a fantastic success from the sports point of view, from the media point of view and for the image of the Audi MedCup Circuit itself. I am sure the GP42 Series has a good future, increasing the number of teams and keeping the level of competition high.”

AM: Can you see the Spanish sponsorship market improving in 2010?
FI: “ We have good expectations that the market will recover and reach previous levels , and I also see good synergies with the GP42 Series. We have good expectations as well for other markets, like France, which could mean adding a French team to the Circuit."