Why Audi sponsor sailing

Photo: Stephano Gattini/Studio Borlenghi/Audi MedCup
Lothar Korn, Audi Group’s Head of Marketing and Communications, talks sports sponsorship and sailing
Sailing and the marketing of luxury car brands are a good fit, as born out by the Volvo Ocean Race, BMW’s involvement up until recently with Oracle Racing and Audi with the MedCup, the Melges class and various other events around the world. Audi’s involvement with sailing has been growing steadily over recent years particularly with the MedCup where they initially came on board as a sub-sponsor, taking over naming rights from Breitling in 2007. Last autumn they announced that they would be extending their sponsorship of the MedCup for a further three years. The German car manufacturer is a giant – recording revenues of 35.4 billion Euros in 2010, bucking the global recession with an impressive year on year increase of 18.8% – so understandably their sponsorship portfolio is an extensive one. According to Lothar Korn, Audi Group’s Head of Marketing and Communications, within sport they focus on four principle areas. Their oldest sponsorship is in skiing which Korn says is particularly important sponsorship for one of their brand assets – the Quattro four wheel drive. They are heavily involved with football and have partnerships with leading European clubs such as Bayer Munich, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and AC Milan. Then there is golf. Last year was the 20th anniversary of the Audi Quattro Cup golf tournament, for amateur players organised by Audi dealers around the world. Typically 80,000 people - yes, 80,000 people - participate in this with the tournament culminating in a final which last year took place in Sardinia. The company are also involved with the German bid to host the Ryder Cup in 2018 as, if it proves successful, this will end up being held at Neuberg, just 10km away from their main factory to the north of Munich. And finally there is sailing where Audi’s centrepiece is the