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Volvo Ocean Race strengthens the Ericsson brand

Last time, Ericsson ended in fifth place. But despite some sporting mishaps, they made a come-back this year. And not just to prove their sailing skills. “Our main concern is naturally business,” says Richard Brisius, managing director of the Ericsson Racing Team. “The previous race was a commercial success.”

This year it seems that Ericsson will win the Volvo Ocean Race. However, no matter where the boat places, it’s till a win-win deal for Ericsson and the reason is quite simple: the Volvo Ocean Race translates as good business for the Ericsson Group. “It’s getting more and more difficult to nail down quality time with our clients,” says Brisius. “The previous Volvo Ocean Race showed us what magnetic drawing power the event has – a total 6,000 Ericsson Key Account Managers worldwide have been able to spend one or two days with 4,500 of our most important clients instead of the usual 20 minutes. The evident result of this is a significant increase in business deals,” he says.

Ericsson has left nothing to coincidence in planning these crucial marketing meetings. Each meeting, in each harbour, was planned in minute detail so that the discussions were crucially relevant for the clients. The planning started 18 months before the Volvo Ocean Race kicked off in Alicante, Spain.
“Of course, there have also been lots of leisure-time events with clients such as sailing excursions and dinner meetings, but 80 percent of the meetings have been devoted to straight business discussions,” he says.

All the ports of call are equally important, says Brisius, who has come to Galway to meet with several major clients from Britain and Ireland. “If I were to focus on any particular harbour it would be Stockholm, since that is our home base of operations with many employees and shareholders. Or perhaps the stop in India, where we set up several base stations per hour.” None of the syndicates will give any indication of the size of the investment they have made in the Volvo Ocean Race, and Ericsson is no exception. Nobody doubts for a moment, however, that it makes for exceptionally good business. “We seek to strengthen the value of the Ericsson brand,” says Brisius. “This project achieves that goal decisively. The previous race generated an international PR value of three to four times our investment, and that’s a very good return indeed. And if we win this race, it will be even better this year.”

He continues: “Volvo shows their own resilience and commitment when they pledge to hold the Volvo Ocean Race for 25 years.”