The main partner of SAEM Vendée, locally based agri-food giants Sodebo have signed a new exclusive contract with the owners and organisers of the solo, non stop round the world race for the fifth consecutive Vendée Globe. It remains a mutually beneficial relationship which continues to work well for the race and for the sponsors who have grown alongside the race.
Since 2004 the colours of the Vendée brand have appeared on every boat racing in the Vendée Globe. The next edition, which will start on November 8, 2020, will continue that same tradition. Sodebo has just signed an exclusive partnership which will further strengthen their automatic association with the race and the challenge of racing solo, non stop around the world without assistance.
"Having Sodebo renew this partnership is very satisfying indeed," says Yves Auvinet, the Chairman of the Vendée Departmental Council who are the majority shareholder of SAEM Vendée, the company set up to organize the Vendée Globe. "I take their ongoing commitment as a reflection of the successes we have enjoyed together since 2004 for our region and in their market.
"Growing, progressing and constantly improving the way we do things is what drives us to make a long-term commitment," says Patricia Brochard, co-president of Sodebo. "When we work alongside SAEM Vendée, we work together in a collaborative way. Our relationships are not just about the financial input and return: we are completely integrated into competitive sailing around the world. Working together with SAEM Vendée we strive to make our contribution work best. "
The course which has been followed by Sodebo represents a remarkable success story in itself. The Vendée company launched its first sponsorship in 1998 supporting Thomas Coville who sailed to a solid sixth place in the Vendée Globe 2000-2001.
For the next edition, because they had no boat bearing their name in the race Sodebo chose to instead invest as a partner in the race.
"It is very much in the family genes to look to the future," smiles Sodebo’s Patricia Brochard, “At the same time, the spirit of adventure, the huge commitment required and that free spirit which infuses the sailors and the race are very much in step with our core values. We knew how to integrate these messages into our communication to best effect for the company. "
"In 1998 Sodebo was already a leader in their area of business but were still largely unknown to the consumer. Twenty years later now we get back over €150 million in media return. Thanks to our investment in sailing we have now very much achieved a high level of brand awaresess" says Pascal Cadorel, director of communication and sponsorship of the family business. "The more people associate Sodebo as a partner in sailing in the widest sense, the more they show interest in discovering the brand and our products. "
The Sodebo brand which is co-chaired by the three daughters of the couple who were the original founders, is now known and recognized all over the world. They have developed a particular authenticity in the world of sailing. They are in linked to the extraordinary reputation of the Vendée Globe, and recognition of Sodebo grows as the images and narrative about the race are broadcast on television and radio channels, on the web and in the media.
Exceptional media returns
The last Vendée Globe exceeded all expectations. "The media return was equivalent to around 27 million euros (for 5.32 million euros investment which will be about the same input for the 2020-2021 edition). As proof, one in two French people followed the race, "says Pascal Cadorel. "According to the studies, we have gained on all the key strategic fronts, from the high value association attached to our products to the trust which is attached to the brand by our consumers. "
The Vendée Globe is very much part of the life of the company. Some 130 employees manned the Sodebo outlets and displays in the start village in Sables d'Olonne, and nearly 500 of them came to see behind the scenes at the event.
"It's a great source of pride. To know what visibility and importance the event has and to have it then associated with our employees is an important recognition ", underlines Patricia Brochard. "This internal communication dynamic is one of the elements that is important in the decision to continue the partnership. Participating in an event with such a strong national and increasingly international reputation taking place from our home region, it is such a natural opportunity.”
The loyal support of Sodebo as partner to the Vendée Globe represents an important guarantee for the SAEM Vendée that they have the means required to manage and promote a well organised and executed event.
Yves Auvinet points out. "We built an outstanding sporting event in 2016-17. We enjoyed some rather extraordinary weather over the three weeks of the start village and we had a great race without a hitch. The successive finishes of the competitors happened in ideal conditions. It would be presumptuous to base your plans on the same fortunes favouring the next edition but the departmental organisation which manages the Vendée Globe will do its best to recreate same dynamic. "
Millions of visitors
About 2.25 million people visited the event in Les Sables d’Olonne during the start build up and on start day. For 2020, the same level of spectator numbers is expected. "We are making it a win-win for all of our partners. What I want is that the attendance during the three pre-start weeks and for the finishes is as good as it was in 2016-17 ", underlines Yves Auvinet.
The President of the Departmental Council of the Vendée notes: "It is up to us to deliver the huge festival which this is part of the race during the pre-start. We managed well last time, during a difficult period for tourism but spectators walked safely on the pontoons, happy to be there, to participate in the event, to share with the skippers and their team. It is an incredible, unique atmosphere "
And Patricia Brochard concludes: "Sailing is far from being just a business, it is a special mix of sport and adventure. There are so many positive values. It is a sport with a feel good factor. Three weeks before the start of the Vendée Globe the atmosphere on the pontoons is very special, people showing great respect and kindness, people stepping into a wonderful world. Sailors are extraordinary people but they remaining accessible and down to earth. It is a pretty magical sport.”