Interview with Jon Bramley: Volvo Ocean Race makes a splash in exciting digital era
Interview with Jon Bramley, Communications Director of Volvo Ocen Race
Edition – Adilson Pacheco
The Volvo Ocean Race is once again celebrating record media figures from television and print after the successful completion of the 12th edition in Gothenburg last June – but it is in social media and digital that the biggest breakthroughs have been made.
The latest Race Report, which details all the media data, economic impact and return on investment for our teams and ports will be published shortly (October).
That report will show among other highlights around a 10 percent growth on the 1.5 billion who watched the race during the previous edition in 2011-12.
Considering that globally, television audiences are dropping as younger viewers head online for their daily fix of news and content, that’s a result the race can be proud of.
But it is the rise in online and social media figures which have particularly pleased the head of communications, Jon Bramley, as he reflects on his second race at the helm of sailing’s leading offshore, round-the-world race.
“When I arrived in 2011, my target was not only to bring the race to more fans through our existing channels such as the website and app, but to target other websites which had bigger audiences than we could realistically reach through our own platforms,” he said in a recent interview with Regatta News.
“We achieved that target by more than doubling our audience in this way but since then the media landscape has changed dramatically in the past three years.”
Bramley expects a rise of more than 100% in the new online audience figures from external media while showing another big rise in the audience of Volvo Ocean Race’s own website.
But it is the success of a completely revamped app that has brought the biggest smile to his face.
“We know that these days the under 35s consume the majority of their news and entertainment via their mobile devices so we set out to make an app that worked to the optimum in that medium,” he said.
The redesign, which took over a year to complete from concept to delivery in time for the October 2014 race start, made the most of the race’s stunning videos and photos while proving very easily usable on a variety of mobile platforms.
“We’ve seen 50,000 new downloads which is an incredible result for an event like ours,” continued Bramley.
At the same time, Bramley’s team concentrated hard on improving service to the fans on the various social media sites and other digital platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and livestreaming partners YouTube.
That focus has again reaped its rewards with a phenomenal growth in Facebook fans from around 300,000 at the beginning of the nine-month race to more than 1.2 million by the time the fleet reached its final destination in Gothenburg.
“It’s put us in the big league of global sports events which is where we belong,” said Bramley.
His proudest moment, however, was witnessing the Volvo Ocean Race being among the first world-class events to use the new phenomenen of Periscope, a Twitter application which streams live video via mobile devices.
“We used it for the first time three-quarters of the way through the race from an in-port race and it worked like a charm. We ran it on our live digital TV show,” said Bramley.
“Other sports events refused to embrace Periscope because they feared it would detract from their television deals. Our aim is simply to expand our fan base to bring this great event to as many as possible.
“Periscope is another potent way of doing that and we’ll continue to be at the cutting edge of new emerging social media innovations to maintain our edge.”
Who knows what will be at the race’s disposal when the 13th edition of the 42-year-old event begins in October 2017.