March 26, 2015
Italian fashion house Prada is gaining visibility for its sponsored Luna Rossa Challenge sailing team through an exhibit at the National Museum of Science and Technology “Leonardo da Vinci” in Milan.
Opened March 24, a permanent display of one of the team’s catamarans will be up until 2017, giving consumers ample time to explore the vessel. Showcasing its affiliation to the sporting world may help expand consumers’ understanding of Prada’s initiatives.
"It won't have much impact at all," said Al Ries, founder and chairman of Ries & Ries, a Roswell, GA-based marketing strategy consultancy.
"In the first place, the Luna Rossa is in the National Museum of Science and Technology," he said. "Visitors to this Milan museum aren't necessarily interested in fashion.
"Even those that are interested in fashion will see Prada as just another company spending money to put their brand name on a piece of history."
Mr. Ries is not affiliated with Prada or Luna Rossa Challenge, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.
In the public eye
Prada has been the sponsor of the Luna Rossa Challenge since the team’s formation by Patrizio Bertelli in 1997, when it was known as the “Prada Challenge.” Mr. Bertelli is Miuccia Prada’s husband and business manager, as well as a passionate sailor who still manages the Luna Rossa team.
Now, the AC72 “Luna Rossa” wing-sail catamaran that in 2013 sailed in the final of the Challenger Selection Series within the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco will have a permanent home at the National Museum of Science and Technology.
Luna Rossa catamaran at National Museum of Science and Technology
At the end of the display in 2017, the ship will compete in the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda.
In the coming months, an additional display will be set up, with interactive media and information about the history of the team and intricacies of the boat.
On social media, Prada shared a video of the boat being moved from the base in Cagliari to Milan. During the process, it needed to be taken apart and reassembled.
The AC72 catamaran @Museoscienza
Once at the museum, the boat was suspended more than 16 feet above the ground, so consumers can view the vessel clearly from below or above, via a gallery.
In a statement, Mr. Bertelli said, “The presence of Luna Rossa at the National Museum of Science and Technology is a recognition of the technical and design value of team Luna Rossa and of its prolonged ability to compete at the highest levels in this field for over 15 years. This boat has certainly been one of the most extreme expressions in the history of yacht design: she is half boat and half airplane and has brought intense emotions to all sailing enthusiasts and, especially, to her crew. We are therefore particularly pleased to bring this testimony of Italy’s design talent to the general public and to the younger generations.”
A number of apparel labels have sailing teams, expanding their influence on a global scale.
Hugo Boss launched a mobile application to let consumers follow the brand’s journey during the Barcelona World Race 2010/11 via videos, images, blogs and tracking the voyage on a map.
Consumers could follow the Hugo Boss boat as it races to the finish line at Barcelona, Spain. The Hugo Boss Sailing application could be downloaded for free in Apple’s App Store and was available for both the iPhone and iPad (see story).
Knowing that sailing is an affluent past time, other luxury brands have expanded into boats.
Swiss watch manufacturer Ulysse Nardin is branching out in a new direction with the release of a powerboat in collaboration with extreme-performance boat maker Midnight Express.
The brand unveiled the new boat along with a special-edition, nautical timepiece to match. Citing its dual inspiration of the need to innovate and the majesty of the sea, Ulysse Nardin announced that it is excited to make this foray into a new field (see story).
"[This will probably reach] mainly the visitors who will already been planning visits to the Milan museum," Mr. Ries said. "I don't think it will draw too many additional visitors. And even those additional visitors might not care too much about fashion.
"They might schedule some media events focusing on fashion over the years that the Luna Rossa competed for America's Cup," he said. "It won't be easy to draw the media because it is going to be hard to connect fashion to sailboat racing."
Sarah Jones, staff reporter on Luxury Daily, New York