The real deal

We speak to Mark Tyndell, CEO of Artemis Investment Managers, about why he chose sailing over golf, tennis, football and rugby

Friday November 6th 2009, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
When it comes to sailing sponsorship - Artemis Investment Managers is the real deal. There is no top executive in the Edinburgh and London-based company, who is a massive fan of sailing. They simply got a consultant to look into the best sports sponsorship opportunity to suit their requirements and the result was sailing.

Chief Executive of Artemis Investment Managers, Mark Tyndell explains their criteria: “For us, we are a British business, so with a lot of the traditional areas what you end up paying for is lost, because it leaks into overseas markets and 'that is the price to sponsor so and so', whether it is in golf or in tennis. That price is set by people who have a global footprint, rather than people who just have a domestic footprint. Then you could go and look at football or rugby, but then that becomes very tribal, very quickly: if you were sponsoring Manchester City then half of Manchester is not going to be well disposed towards you. So sponsorship at the more local level doesn’t work for us either. So we wanted something where we could be the solo sponsor, where we could control the branding and media side of things and then we wanted to find something where the demographics were right and this came out looking like it represented the best value for money for what we wanted to do.”

The consultant they chose to investigate this back in 2006 was Rob Quick, now one half of Quick McMorran, the Beaconsfield-based brand marketing and sponsorship agency. Quick carried out a survey of many different activities ending up with a short list of three, the two others being the growing sport of triathlon (appealing for Artemis as several of their employees are triathletes) or sponsoring a venue – Cowdray Park in Sussex, well known for its golf and polo events. However the latter choice would expose them to too many “top end decision makers” - not their market, says Tyndell, for their market is anyone with money to invest from £50/month to a £10,000 lump sum or upwards. “Very wealthy don’t tend to use people like us. They use private banks or hedge funds.”

Within the broad sport of yachting they chose shorthanded offshore racing and specifically not the America’s Cup or Volvo Ocean Race, firstly because the budgets required to do well in these events were several orders of magnitude larger than an Open 60 campaign but also for the same reason they are not into golf or tennis - because they are too international. With inshore racing in the UK it becomes too local, Tyndell observes, while solo offshore racing, particularly in the post-Ellen MacArthur era, does come with news weightiness in the media and produces a fantastic floating billboard for a company.

While other investment companies such as Gartmore and HSBC have been involved in the IMOCA class previously, Tyndell gives the impression that this was of no influence to them, other than learning from their lessons.

In addition to sailing sponsorship, Artemis have also set up - the Artemis Great Kindrocht Quadrathlon held at Loch Tay in Scotland. This has grown from 60-70 entrants in the first year to around 300 now. A number of employees have competed in it, including Tyndell. In addition they sponsored Mark Beaumont, the round the world cyclist and an ocean rowing team who made an attempt on breaking the transatlantic record. They also have several other local level sponsorships of a smaller nature, which Tyndell says typically comes out of their charities budget.

Since initially backing the Open 60 campaign, Artemis have also expanded within yachting. Last year they signed up as sponsor of Offshore Challenge’s Transat race and this year they have backed their Vendee Globe skipper, Jonny Malbon, in the Figaro and Ollie Bond in the Mini Transat.

“It’s two things really,” says Tyndell of why they did this. “One is that when you put the infrastructure in place both to run an Open 60 campaign and have all the promotion and marketing related to that, the incremental cost of doing a few other things is relatively low. But it also spreads the overall media risk in a broader sense, so that Artemis Ocean Racing is more than an Open 60, and I think that lowers the risk of the whole campaign from a commercial perspective. And it seems to me that what is happening in shorthanded offshore sailing, to be able to play a broader role than simply Open 60s, is probably in everyone’s interest and from our point of view it means we get more people through the team and the campaign and more brains to pick and more talent. It seems to be a logical thing to try and do.”

At present they still have the Artemis 1 Open 60, previously Hexagon/ HSBC/ Pindar, which has been up for sale. When it didn’t sell last winter, they chose to hang on to it and have been using it for corporate entertainment and have campaigned it in the capable hands of Simon Clay in events such as the round the island and Rolex Fastnet Race. For it is corporate entertainment as well as media coverage that are the reasons Artemis Investment Managers involvement in our sport.

“With our business, although we have 80 or 100,000 people who invest with us, there are probably 1,000 financial advisors who account for the majority of that business, out of which 200-300 people would have had the chance to come sailing and have an exposure to the whole world of Open 60 sailing. So that is quite a good take up,” states Tyndell. “We obviously take people to see the rugby or the golf, but there you are part of the crowd, but here you are centre of the action, so it is a different kind of experience.”

It seems to have flown by, but the end of Artemis’ four year tenure in yachting is due at the end of this year and at some point they will be reappraising whether or not they are going to continue in sailing sponsorship, and if they do continue what form it might take going forwards. For they have a huge amount of unfinished business.

“We have had a series of incidents that have knocked us off course,” admits Tyndell. “ Artemis 1 - first time out in the Newport-Bermuda we hit the keel milling around before the start. We hit a mammal in the Route du Rhum [in 2006] which caused quite a bit of damage. In the Fastnet [in 2007] we had to pull out of that because the mainsail batten broke its sleeve. We got dismasted in the TJV last time around [in 2007]. So that was A1. She did very well in the Round Britain and Ireland Race, and the round the Island Race, but the big races for us didn’t happen. When it came to Artemis 2 we knew we were going to be tight for time and then we were late into the build because Hugo Boss overran and then the mast was delivered overweight, so we had no time to do any preparation or optimisation, but at the same time the team was tested pretty hard and what we do know that everyone is massively committed.”

Frankly their record in sailing has been not simply unlucky, it has been a catalogue of disaster, which hopefully they may have at last turned around by putting OC in charge of managing their 60 campaign.

Sadly even the TJV isn’t really the ideal race to show off Artemis 2 to her full potential, although this would appear to be her best chance yet. “This boat was not developed fully for the Vendee Globe and we have still only been able to do a proportion of what we know we could and usefully should do with the boat this summer to put her through her paces," says Tyndell. "The TJV is a good opportunity to do that - the first opportunity to get her out. The TJV isn’t an ideal race for this boat. It is a light downwind race and she’s not really designed for that. As Open 60s go she is at the heavy, powerful end of the spectrum. We have a good idea of how her performance curve looks and it will be a proper chance for her to race against the rest. We’ll see how we get on.”

When decision time comes, Tyndell says that even he, as CEO, doesn’t know which way it will go. “We know spiritually what we’d like to do, but it has to be a commercial decision. Our business has been hit, like everyone else, and what for us was an easily managable financial commitment three years ago is a rather more significant commitment now.”

To help make their decision there will be a three part evaluation. They need to be convinced that the team has the competitive potential to be media-worthy from getting decent results going forward. They have to have assessed their own financial position to make sure they can cover the commitment if they did decide to continue. Then they need to take a view that the media pay-off will be there. It is unfortunate that given the sequence of set-backs their campaign has experienced to date they haven’t been able to make the best of a potentially high media return. One gets the impression from Tyndell that the result of Sam Davies and Sidney Gavignet in the TJV and how the media side of this is exploited, could have a major impact on their decision.

“If we think people are getting behind the whole broadened game plan for Artemis Ocean Racing and can see the role it can play in the sport generally and spread the risk from the Open 60 into a broader concept, if people get behind that, then it’ll be very encouraging because from a sponsor’s point of view we don’t keep running the risk of having some equipment damage that knocks you out of the race or makes you uncompetitive.”

Frankly if they do decide to continue then by far their best option would be to find a way of sticking with Sam Davies, who aside from being British and 'camera friendly' is one of the best of the UK crop of solo offshore racers at present and extremely pro-active on the media side.

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