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April 13, 2015

Portugal: What the Volvo Ocean Race Stopover Means for Lisbon

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"We want to be the best and the biggest Volvo Ocean Race stopover"

That is the wish of Volvo Ocean Race organization, which returns to Lisbon from 25th May to 7th June, an investment of four million euros.

One of the greatest events in the world returns to Lisbon, in what is the only stop in a European capital. The passage of the Volvo Ocean Race in Lisbon in 2015 represents a joint investment of about four million euros for Urban Wind, the company responsible for organizing the event, the Lisbon City Council and the Association of the Lisbon Port.

"This passage through Lisbon puts Portugal on the world sail scenario, promoting our tourism, our economy and our culture," says José Pedro Amaral, Volvo Ocean Race Lisbon Stopover Director and responsible for organizing the event in Portugal in both 2014/2015 and 2017/2018 editions. "We have, for this event, a very clear ambition: to renew the connection between Portugal and the Portuguese people with the sea and to be the best and the biggest stopover ever in the history of Volvo Ocean Race," he adds. The organization aims to reach 500 thousand visitors. The presentation of the event took place in the Town Hall in the Grand Hall of the Municipality of Lisbon, and unanimously the Head of Host Port Operations, Adolfo Rodriguez, the mayors of Oeiras and Lisbon, and João Pedro Amaral, Stopover Director, reported the importance of Volvo Ocean Race for tourism and the economic impact on the destination.

The brand's perspective

Two companies linked to the Volvo brand are involved in the event. On the one hand, Volvo Car, responsible in Portugal for the automobile segment, and Nors Group, representative of Volvo Trucks, Volvo Buses and Volvo Penta. We sat down with Aira de Mello, Marketing Director for Volvo Car, and José Albuquerque, Brand Corporate Communication Manager of Nors Group. 

Race importance in Portugal

Aira de Mello points out that this mega event is not "a simple sponsorship of an existing boat race". It is rather a brand event, which allows to bring it closer to the public and "position the Volvo brand as different and technologically advanced," she noted. Aira highlights that the boats competing are "Volvo Open 65" produced by Volvo for each of the teams. "In addition, the values of Volvo Ocean Race - adaptability, preparation, strategy, resilience, teamwork, solidarity, overcoming obstacles and courage under the most extreme conditions – have everything to do with the values and brand positioning," explains Aira de Mello. José Albuquerque, Nors Group, emphasizes the "great opportunity to give visibility to the products and services we provide to our customers in Portugal." For the country, it is an opportunity for promotion, remembers José Albuquerque, and an added value in terms of economic impact. Aira de Mello ensures it is "an achievement" that Portugal is receiving the event in a line-up that includes China, the USA, Brazil, New Zealand or the United Arab Emirates. "Let's face it, we all know that Portugal, commercially, is a less interesting market than its counterparts. It means that both the organization and the teams believe in the interest of Portugal as a Europe port of arrival. For us, Volvo Car Portugal, it is a reason of pride and a unique opportunity at all levels,” comments the Marketing Director.

Brands Activation

A few months before the event, brands were already working on the activation plan. Aira de Mello reveals some of the initiatives. "We will have a stand at Volvo Car Portugal with our full range available for test driving and also the big news, the all-new Volvo XC90 before its official release, available for experimentation, firsthand, at the event", she informs. There will also be a chance to try the automatic parking system and many activities are being prepared "with attractive prizes." Nors Group has planned a series of parallel events in Pedrouços Dock for the different partners. "We will also provide support to groups of guests from other markets that the Volvo Group will bring to Portugal," said José Albuquerque.

Brands Values

We challenged our interviewees to detail the values that are common to both brands and this event. José Albuquerque remembers "the importance of the human factor in achieving this overall objective, evident in all of the competition communication, related to the many emotions generated by the challenge 'Life at the Extreme'." That is why he finds in this event some of the brand's core values: quality, safety and environmental protection. "Other values of our products and services are also associated with great notoriety: robustness, efficiency, endurance, design, technology and innovation," he says. "Volvo Ocean Race is intrinsically Volvo. It is, after all, the purest, most competitive and fairest confrontation between people and nature," refers Aira de Mello. She also remembers the brand concept. "Volvo was founded by Swedish for Sweden, which, as we know, is a country with a harsh climate, six months of gloom, snow, ice and freezing temperatures. Each Volvo is created in this environment, to 'survive' the most adverse conditions. So we are a 'protective', strong brand, prepared to resist adversity and carry safely to their final destination those who entrust us with their lives and their journeys. "

News and expectations

José Albuquerque prefers not to unravel what will happen in the Race Village not to spoil the surprise, but stresses the "interesting, ambitious and high quality" project that Urban Wind has for the event. Aira de Mello lifts a little of the veil, "There will be many new features, more activities, more experimentation. For those who do not have opportunity to enter one of the boats competing, we will have available a visitable ship 'cut' in half, the film "one day at the office", which chronicles the daily life on board, sailors or members of the teams lectures with answers for the most relevant questions, performances on the main stage and many local news". Therefore, the expectations of the two brands are the highest. "Despite the economic situation not being the most favourable, we are confident that the passage of Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015 in Lisbon will be a great event with national and international impact, just like the previous edition," says José Albuquerque. His opinion is shared by Volvo Car's Marketing Director, who believes that the 2012 edition number of visitors will be exceeded. "We're all working to make the event even bigger and better." Aira de Mello referred to the "huge investment in terms of financial and human resources for Volvo Car Portugal. More than a quarter of our annual budget is spent in the Volvo Ocean Race."

Return evaluation

It is always a relevant issue when it comes to an event. José Albuquerque notes that a study is made by the Volvo group about the event through local surveys. Aira de Mello shares Volvo Car perspective. "For us the immediate return is measured in database capture through the activities in the Race Village. But the immeasurable is much more important -a brand image that is withdrawn from an event of this nature. " In fact, the brand is more and more receptive to events. "We are in Portugal, focusing on events to approach the brand to the people for four years now, with the Roadshows Volvo and Volvo Ocean Race. We believe it is increasingly important that the brands don't isolate themselves and reach to the consumer, break the ice, seek direct contact," she says. Aira concludes, "Our advertising investment can never compete with that of our most powerful competitors. This means we have to be smarter and more selective when it comes to communication channels and ways to transmit our message. Volvo Ocean Race is a good example." The Nors Group has invested in internal and external corporate events and brand activations related to the product close to customers. "In the past we did here many activation actions. Today, Volvo in Sweden has created the conditions for us to take there our clients and that gives us a great advantage in terms of investment, human resources and logistics. You can organize car events anywhere, but truck events is not exactly so, they are larger and not everyone has license to drive trucks on the open road. You always have to create special conditions so they can be tested," says José Albuquerque.

Some figures: 

  • 14 Days
  • 57.000m2 Area 
  • 7 Teams
  • 38,739 Nautical miles 
  • 500 thousand visitors expected



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