A new report, 'Jump Racing Focus, Essentials of the sport for investors 2009-2010', highlights the steps the sport is taking to maintain audiences and remain attractive to potential sponsors, in spite of the economic downturn.
Attendance figures for 2009 indicate that it is achieving its goal: around two per cent more people have attended horse-racing meetings in 2009 to date (both Jumps and Flat) compared with the same period in 2008 (2009: 5,206,271 versus 2008: 5,108,858).
The report also notes that £10.5 million was spent in sponsorship of races, teams and events during the Jumping calendar in 2008 and an additional £3 million was invested in ancillary spend on rights fees, ranging from perimeter boards to print and online spend.
As noted in Jump Racing Focus, sponsors can point to real returns on their investment. For example, malt whisky producer Glenfarclas has lifted sales by 25% in the past 12 months by sponsoring Jump Racing, combined with other activities across a broad range of sectors.
Charles Hamer, of Pol Roger, Glenfarclas’ UK distributor, comments: “We are delighted with the significant increase in our public profile associated with our sponsorship of Jump Racing. This carefully selected partnership has, gratifyingly, led to excellent growth in our UK sales since the start of the race series.
We are confident that the subsequent two seasons, to which we are already committed, will continue this upward trend”.
This season sees several leading brands joining or returning to the sport with new sponsorship deals. Quality fashion retailer Thomas Pink is sponsoring the prestigious Leading Rider and Trainer Awards at both The Open in November and The Festival in March at Cheltenham Racecourse.
The company also took a stand at The Open Shopping Village during The Open and ran a promotional ticket offer for Thomas Pink customers to book advance tickets for the Club and Tattersalls enclosures at Cheltenham. Thomas Pink had previously been a sponsor at Cheltenham and has decided to return after a six-year hiatus.
Neptune Investment Management has also been confirmed as the new sponsor of the prestigious £50,00 Listed Handicap Chase at the Boylesports International at Cheltenham on Friday, 11th December 2009. This race was particularly noteworthy last year as it was won by Mon Mome – who went on to win the John Smith’s Grand National at 100-1.
Georgina Pardoe, Marketing Director at Neptune Investment Management, commented: “This agreement represents our first corporate sponsorship in horse racing and gives us the opportunity to support the sport, which directly or indirectly employs over 90,000 people, during a difficult year.
As a new sponsor in racing, we have been impressed by the enthusiasm and professionalism offered by the team at Cheltenham.” The two-day Boylesports International at Cheltenham on Friday, December 11 and Saturday, December 12 also represents the renewal of last year’s sponsorship agreement with Boylesports.
In addition to being headline sponsor of the race meeting, Boylesports sponsors the two principal races at the meeting - the £150,000 Grade Three Boylesports.com Gold Cup and the £150,000 Grade Two Boylesports.com International, the most valuable hurdle race prior to the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle.
“The consistent level of sponsorship expenditure endorses the industry view that sponsorship remains a growing marketing communications tool against other media purchase, and excellent value for money,” commented Peter McNeile, Director of Sponsorship at Cheltenham Racecourse.
“Part of racing’s attraction as a sponsorship offering is its immense versatility and tremendous reach. No part of mainland Britain is further than 90 minutes travel from a racecourse, and racing is watched by millions of television viewers on terrestrial, satellite and online channels in the UK and abroad.”
“More importantly, sponsorship opportunities are available at many different levels. Individual races may be purchased for relatively affordable sums, to provide a focus for a day’s hospitality, or to make a point to a local audience.
Equally, there are plenty of premium events where lending your name to an event will reap real dividends in media value accrued from broadcast and newspaper coverage and from event spectators.
Integrating your brand message into the content of a racing programme through sponsorship is proving a more cost effective method of reaching consumers, whilst also building brand loyalty in a way that above the line advertising can not.
For example, escorting a key customer to a race meeting to join your team in the paddock before and after the race provides an experience and opportunity to build customer loyalty that only racing sponsorship can offer. That is why leading b2b and b2c brands return to the sport year after year,” concluded McNeile.
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