Nespresso is about to celebrate ten years of sponsoring the America’s Cup. We catch up with Stéphane Detaille, International Sponsorship Manager, to discuss what drives the Swiss coffee producer to invest in the sport of sailing and the America’s Cup. As his title implies, Detaille is in charge of sponsorship for the Swiss coffee producer at their headquarters and handled the discussions with America’s Cup Event Authority and Emirates Team New Zealand.
VSail.info: Let’s start with some background on Nespresso and sailing. Since when is your company involved with this sport?
Stéphane Detaille: We are shortly going to celebrate ten years of partnership with the America’s Cup because we began in 2003 by sponsoring Team Alinghi. Shortly after that, we became the Official Coffee of the 32nd America’s Cup. We also created a proprietary event called “Nespresso Cup”, organized in Portofino, that was the only 100% Wally event. We also decided to support Emirates Team New Zealand and then, a few weeks ago, we became the Official Coffee of the 34th America’s Cup. Given our wish to focus our energy on the America’s Cup, we decided to put the Nespresso Cup on hold. As I said, Nespresso has been supporting sailing for ten years.
VSail.info: Why did you choose the sport of sailing in general and the America’s Cup in particular? What does Nespresso seek to achieve through the America’s Cup?
Stéphane Detaille: I think there are two different things. One is the America’s Cup and the other is Emirates Team New Zealand, even if they are strongly linked. The way we select our properties in sponsoring, is to opt for what we call the “ultimate events”. This is why we selected the America’s Cup in the world of sailing, this is why we are supporting the Cannes Film Festival or the Ryder Cup in Europe in the sport of golf. We select the property that in our view represents the ultimate in its environment. In sailing, quite naturally, the America’s Cup was an obvious option. It’s also true that at time, in 2003, the option came because of the participation of Team Alinghi which in turn helped in the selection of the event itself. However, very clearly, the America’s Cup corresponds to our criteria of selecting what we thing to be the best event in its territory.
VSail.info: Is the deal you have with the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco similar to the one you had with the 32nd edition in Valencia? Are there any aspects that have changed?
Stéphane Detaille: In general it will be quite similar. We are again the Official Coffee, which means we will be the only coffee served in the venue during the event. We will have Nespresso bars, we will, obviously be present in the hospitality areas and this will give us a certain number of activation capabilities, associated with the event. There is nothing different in that aspect but I think that what is unique is the combination with Emirates Team New Zealand where we are closely working with them, especially in what they have in terms of team spirit, the values they carry, the respect, the trust they have for their people within the team. In parallel we have the event where we will have the possibility to showcase our products and associate ourselves with the prestige and heritage of the event. It is also an important step forward in our US presence because the fact the America’s Cup is held in California is an important point for us.
Our partnership will start in April at the America’s Cup World Series regatta in Naples. Our people in Italy will be working closely with us. We will also be working closely with Francesco De Angelis, a sailor who has been very involved with the America’s Cup and who has been collaborating with us on the America’s Cup since last year. We will be active in Naples, serving Nespresso in a key area of coffee culture.
VSail.info: I am not sure to what point you can answer that question but are the financial aspects of your deal in San Francisco similar to the ones you had in Valencia?
Stéphane Detaille: It’s not something I would like to comment on but I would say that the environment and the event in itself have changed significantly. The rights and the approach we have are quite similar but I’m not able to discuss the financial side. As you know, sponsorship deals are very often confidential.
VSail.info: Is your involvement with the event bigger than your involvement with Emirates Team New Zealand?
Stéphane Detaille: They are two very different things to be honest. With Team New Zealand we have an access to the team, the possibility to develop some content, the visibility on the boat, which is very important to us, and the New Zealand market is also important for us. On the one hand we have the access to the team, the association with the team and the presence of the brand while on the other hand it’s really about showcasing the product, bringing it to the consumer and of course associating ourselves with the America’s Cup brand. It’s obviously in the same environment but we have two different targets for two different properties.
I would like to make a special mention to Emirates Team New Zealand. They are powered by a fantastic culture and this culture behind the entire team works well with Nespresso. The commitment and spirit they have are quite unique and when you have the opportunity to see it from inside it’s impressive. I was talking about respect, trust and team spirit and I think I have never seen anything as powerful as that team culture and spirit.
VSail.info: Given the fact you will shortly celebrate ten years of involvement with the America’s Cup I suppose Nespresso is satisfied with the return on its investment in the event.
Stéphane Detaille: There is one thing we are quite happy with, that is to be associated with certain values. The America’s Cup is an event that reflects innovation, passion, excellence, prestige and these are linked with our brand. I think the experience our brand had in Valencia with the 32nd America’s Cup was very good, it allowed us to have multi-faceted experiences around the brand and Team Alinghi before that was also a great experience. I think the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco will be quite unique, the location is absolutely unique and we are quite confident this will help us to increase our position in that market.
VSail.info: This time, America’s Cup organizers are striving to convey a less exclusive, less elitist image for the event and their CEO has even stated it would be closer to “NASCAR on the water”. Is that something that affects your brand?
Stéphane Detaille: I think that if you look back you’ll see that even in the 32nd America’s Cup organizers were trying to open it up to a larger public. I think there is a number of great breakthroughs in terms of TV production and for us this is interesting and that doesn’t change the exclusivity of the experience. I think it’s the way the brand negotiate the activation and the way the brand activates the hospitality or the experience with the public. It’s not only about the event, it’s also about the sponsor’s brand. In my opinion, and you could also discuss this with Louis Vuitton who are in this since 1983, what is important is the way you create your environment and at the end of the day, the America’s Cup will always be the America’s Cup.
VSail.info: How important is sailing or the America’s Cup for your brand? Do people drink more Nespresso coffee because of your association with the America’s Cup or because they watched the funny commercials with George Clooney?
Stéphane Detaille: That’s a good question but I would say it’s a combination. For sure, Nespresso is supporting an event like the 34th America’s Cup to build on its values but also to help Nespresso win in the market. We hope the event will allow us to increase our presence in the US. One thing for sure is that all the America’s Cup fans and public will be able to have a Nespresso experience.
VSail.info: Another very big event in the sport of sailing that, in my opinion, could share some of the values you mentioned is the Volvo Ocean Race. Is that something Nespresso has looked at?
Stéphane Detaille: For sure, if you talk about ultimate events in offshore racing, I would say that clearly the Volvo Ocean Race is a key one, as is the Vendée Globe. As you saw, the finish of the Vendée Globe was truly amazing but both of them are offshore races. A decision has been taken for us to focus on inshore races and the America’s Cup was a clear choice. It’s a question of positioning and for the moment it is corresponding to the way we see sponsoring but if we had to choose an offshore race, for sure the Volvo Ocean Race would be a good one. However, that’s not the case for the moment.
VSail.info: Is Nespresso also looking at sponsoring other, more popular and mainstream sports?
Stéphane Detaille: For the moment, at an international level, we are focusing on sailing and golf. Golf is not seen as a mainstream sport but depending on the market you can have a different positioning. We are actively sponsoring the golf environment and especially the Ryder Cup that is held every four years in Europe. For the moment we are not active in other sports because we think that sailing and golf correspond perfectly to our brand.