Monday, February 13, 2012

Five of Diamonds

Quick. Without using the Google or scrolling further down this page, what company uses this logo and what do they make?





Don't worry. 93.6% of Zen masters don't know the answer to this question.

But as this is a sailing blog, and a Laser sailing blog to boot, some of you may be familiar with the logo. Haven't you seen it somewhere? Think.





OK. Time up.

Perhaps you remembered it as the logo on the sails at the Heavy Weather Laser Slalom in San Francisco last year? If so, you would be right.

Oh yes. Now you remember. What does it say on their sail? MACLAREN. Hmmm.

Aren't they the people that sponsor Anna Tunnicliffe and her match racing team? Yes they are. Maclaren have been making quite a splash in the sailing world in the last year. I hear they had some involvement with the Sunfish Worlds and also that they have been sponsoring Rob Crane, the US Laser sailor selected to go to the 2012 Olympics.

So what does Maclaren make? Something that might appeal to sailors perhaps?

Rum? No. That's Mount Gay.

Cars? No. Volvo do that.

German sneakers? Now you're being silly. That's Puma.

What? Baby strollers?

Yes. Or to use their own words, "Maclaren is a premier British parenting lifestyle company that produces the worlds most safe, durable, innovative, and stylish baby buggies, strollers, carriers, ..."

Hmmm. So why are they sponsoring sailing events? I thought that people tended to give up sailing during their "parenting" years. What's the connection?

Well, the principal connection seems to be that Maclaren (the baby stroller parenting lifestyle company) and LaserPerformance (the company that makes Lasers and Sunfish and many other boats) are sister companies under the same ownership.

More news on Maclaren's present and future involvement in sailing has filtered out over the past few weeks.

I first spotted something in the minutes of the North American Laser Class Executive Committee meetings. For many months now these minutes have recorded that LaserPerformance have been delaying making a commitment to provide sponsorship money to the Laser Class (which they had been doing in the past, I believe.) Then, in the January minutes there was a brief item saying that the class was going to submit a "sponsorship packet" to Maclaren.

Hmmm. Why would the class think that the baby buggy parenting lifestyle part of the Maclaren/LP empire would cough up sponsorship money to support Laser sailing when the boat building part of the Maclaren/LP empire would not? Very strange.

It all became somewhat clearer this week. The World Laser 4.7 Youth Championships are scheduled to be held in Argentina next month, but there is a notice on the international Laser class website saying, "We are still urgently trying to secure the provision of charter boats for the championships in Argentina." Traditionally the manufacturer of Lasers for the region in which such major championships are held (LaserPerformance in this case) has provided brand new charter boats for the championship, made some money from the charter fees, and then sold the boats (through dealers) at a discount.

Someone complained about this problem affecting the Laser 4.7 Worlds on the Laser Forum and a reply from one of the class officers revealed that...

LaserPerformance have decided they no longer want to participate in the boat charter business for major events like this...

Going forward LaserPerformance says it will focus entirely on boat building. All previous "support" functions once performed by LP will be transferred to their sister company Maclaren which will handle sports marketing. Organizations once receiving "support" from LP can now apply for sponsorship to Maclaren.


It's not clear to me that this means that Maclaren will provide the same kind of charter boat arrangements at major events that LaserPerformance previously did. If they don't, then the kind of Masters Worlds that I have attended with 400+ sailors competing may be a thing of the past.

But it does seem clear that if you want some sponsorship money for sailing, don't bother to write to LaserPerformance, send your pitch to Maclaren.

I have no idea what the reason for this change is. What are Maclaren getting out of being involved in sailing sponsorship? Is it about selling more baby buggies to Laser sailors? Or is there something else going on here that I am missing?

Please feel free to speculate in the comments. Normal rules apply. Any relation of your comments to reality is entirely optional. Points will be awarded for creativity and use of marketing buzzwords that real people don't understand. Resorting to use of logic and reason will be penalized.


Anonymous said...

At the risk of being penalized for using logic. My guess is that it all comes down to profits and taxation. Maclaren gets a tax deduction even though they are basically paying for advertising for their sister company. Or maybe the corporate types at Laser are a complete bunch of turds. Wouldn't that be strange and unusual ;)

Tillerman said...

Anonymous, you may well be right that there's some tax motivation here. That wouldn't surprise me at all.

But let's keep the discussion respectful. Calling people names like that doesn't help. The current president of LaserPerformance is a well-respected sailor and former champion (as well as having extensive business experience in other companies) and many of the previous leaders of the North American Laser builders have had similar credentials.

Litoralis said...

The players expect to realize significant synergy by leveraging the marketing efforts of their core business assets while decoupling their specialized manufacturing arm from the burden of event logistics.
Channeling sponsorship investment through the corporate entity best suited to reduce government expenses also allows that entity to realize added value from increased exposure to the target market.

Tillerman said...

Nice one Lito. You have a bright future in writing corporate press releases.

Jos said...

One turn penalty for hitting the mark

George A said...

Pissst: Tillerman, don't you see? There's an evil connection between MacLaren, LaserPerformance and all those "mommy" boats you've been ranting about. I don't know what more proof you need. The three are obviously interwoven. Pity that the company is MacLaren rather than McLaren:

Tillerman said...

Oh shit.

I bet there's some way to prove using Google Analytics Webmaster Adsense Marketeers Toolkit or something that Mommy and Laser are very closely associated terms on the web - and it's all my fault!

O Docker said...

I think things started falling apart when branding stopped being something that cowboys do.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Tillerman. The executives that are honest and hardworking need to start shouting as loudly as us little peons. The frauds and swindles originating from the top will soon make their profession about as respected as lawyers and politicians if things don't change soon.

Tillerman said...

OK. SO some CEOs have done some bad stuff. What does that have to do with LaserPerformance and Maclaren?

I am simply stating I don't understand the business reasons behind this decision to change the way they sponsor sports. That's probably because I don't have enough information and because I am pretty ignorant about marketing and branding and sponsorship and all that stuff.

I am NOT implying that there is anything fraudulent or unethical going on here. In fact I assume that the decisions are being made in the best interest of the shareholder(s) of these businesses. (That's what CEOs are supposed to do.) As a former (and probably future) customer of he boatbuilding side of the business I am just trying to understand why this decision was made and what the short term and long term impact of it might be on the health of my sport of Laser sailing.

Tillerman said...

Official statement now from Maclaren on this issue.

Hmmm. Should I apply for campaign sponsorship?

O Docker said...

The application form says you would have to write one related blog post a month, but it's not clear if that has to be about sailing or baby buggies.

I guess they could expect you to use and do online reviews of their products.

So we might, eventually, be reading a Tillerman post called 'Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers'.

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