American Marketer


Audi boosts sponsorship savvy via polo series

April 27, 2012


German automaker Audi is looking to increase its customer base through the sponsorship of a new series of Polo Internationals called the Audi International Polo Series that will take place at different venues across Britain this summer.

Governed by the Hurlingham Polo Association, the series will feature three international games for the season including the newly-named Audi International at Guards Polo Club. It is expected to be the largest-attended British polo event of the year.

“The aspirational consumer is gone, so what brands are doing is pushing more than ever on winning greater share of wallet to their very best customers and getting referrals from consumers like them,” said Greg Furman, president of the Luxury Marketing Council, New York. “The brand is a thoroughbred automotive company and Polo International is a thoroughbred sports company, so it is kind of like a competition by thoroughbreds for consumer thoroughbreds.

“The idea to target the most sophisticated and rich customers at the right venue at the right time is perfect,” he said. “It makes immanent good sense.”

Mr. Furman is not affiliated with Audi or HPA, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Audi did not respond before press deadline.

Play ball
The first of the matches in the Audi International series will take place June 16 at Beaufort Polo Club in Tetbury. England will play against Commonwealth.

The second match will be July 22 against South Africa and will take place at Guards Polo Club in Windsor. This is the venue that was recently renamed for Audi.

The last match of the series will be Sept. 8 at the Chester Racecourse Polo Club, where the team will play South America.

Audi announces sponsorship

Audi has also been sponsoring the England polo team since 2005. The team will be playing May 19 in The St. Regis International Cup in Cowdray Park against the United States.

This combination of sponsorships makes Audi the biggest supporter of polo in Britain, claims the brand.

Pony show
Quite a few luxury marketers are using sponsorships to gain favor in the public eye and align themselves with affluent consumers.

For example, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, is creating the illusion of exclusivity for the brand through a sponsorship of a polo tournament team and by playing host to an invitation-only preview event (see story).

In addition, LVMH-owned Champagne brand Moët & Chandon is flaunting the affluent lifestyle associated with the brand through a Kentucky Derby sponsorship that could allow it to secure key event and television placements (see story).

By showing that a brand has the same interests as affluent consumers, it will strengthen the bond between existing customers and open doors for opportunities to engage with new ones.

However, it is important that sponsorships make sense. Proper alignment between the event and the brand is key, per Mr. Furman.

“The brands have to be the right kindred spirits together and have cultural synergy,” Mr. Furman said. “ Sponsorships only work when the brands have a good energy, understand the target and have a good measure of success.

“Collaborations do not work when the brands did not take the time to delineate the criteria and objectives for success,” he said.

Final Take

Rachel Lamb, associate reporter on Luxury Daily, New York