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Events / Causes

Rolex targets affluent, athletic male consumers via sailing sponsorship

January 18, 2011

Rolex is sponsoring the Miami OCR sailing competition


Rolex is using its sponsorship of US Sailing Rolex Miami OCR Olympic and Paralympic championships to reach affluent, athletic males that represent the brand's target audience.

The sailing competition brings together the world’s top Olympic and Paralympic-class competitors. It is running Jan. 23-29.

"Sponsoring an event like this is a great way to get exposure in an affluent market, and to establish a good image among people among this event is important," said Ron Kurtz, president at the American Affluence Research Center, Atlanta. "It helps to personalize the relationship between the affluent if you’re supporting a cause or event or something that people in that demographic are particularly interested in."

Mr. Kurtz is not affiliated with Rolex and has agreed to comment as a third party expert. Rolex was not able to comment by press deadline.

US Rolex Miami OCR

Rolex has been sponsoring the US Rolex Miami OCR since 1990.

This particular event is the second stop on the 2010-11 International Sailing Federation Sailing World Cup, an annual series for Olympic and Paralympic sailing.

The regatta is especially important for sailors hoping to rank high enough to quality for the US Sailing Team, AlphaGraphics, that distinguishes the top sailors in both classes.

The racers for the Olympic classes will consist of a five-day series Monday through Friday, with a double-point medal race on Saturday. The top 10 finishers in the series will advance to the medal race on Saturday.

Competitors in the Paralympic classes will have five days of fleet racing, but no medal race.

The Olympic classes are divided into 10 categories, and the Paralympic classes are divided into three.

More than 675 sailors from 49 countries have registered, according to Rolex.

Last year, the event was held Jan. 24 through Jan. 30.

US Sailing Rolex Miami OCR 2010

A history with sailing

The brand’s sailing history dates back to 1927, when Hans Wilsdorf, founder of Rolex, equipped a young swimmer with a Rolex Oyster when she swam across the English channel.


The modern Rolex Oyster

Even though the watch had been immersed for over 10 hours in the water, it still kept accurate time.

Today, Rolex still has a collection of robust, waterproof watches that many of its champions wear when competing in both the Miami OCR and in other sporting events.

In addition to the ISFS World Cup, Rolex has been sponsoring sailing championships since the late ’50s.

Rolex is the title sponsor of more than 20 major international events, such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship.

The brand also boasts sponsorships in golf, skiing, equestrian sports and automobile sports.

All of these disciplines combine precision and endurance, and call on participants to push themselves ever beyond their limits, per Rolex.

In fact, Rolex and fellow watch brand Cartier both advertise in Golf Digest, which is geared toward hard-to-engage affluent male consumers, similar to the audience Rolex is trying to reach at the Miami OCR (see story).

"Rolex needs to look at the wealthiest five percent in terms of target market, people with an income of 200,000 or more," Mr. Kurtz said. "More than likely, people watching these races have an even higher income.

"Creating a good image among the affluent that support the event, either as spectators or participants, is important to a luxury brand," he said. "The main reason is because the market already knows the brand, but Rolex now needs to establish an emotional link."

Rachel Lamb is an editorial assistant at Luxury Daily. Reach her at