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Building Fandom Around New Sport: Real-Time Activating at the United States Sail Grand Prix

Entered in Sports


For the 2022 San Francisco Sail Grand Prix, SailGP tapped Code3 to create fandom around a new kind of action-packed, sailing sport and bridge the divide between the digital experience and the in-person experience of the International league’s Grand Final. SailGP is an innovative racing league that combines cutting-edge sustainable technology with an extreme version of sailing that pushes nine international teams comprised of the world’s best co-ed sailors to the limit. The teams compete across a season of grand prix all around the world for a chance to win $1 million at the annual season final. Our goal was to sell tickets, grow the audience, support sponsors and partners,  and bring the action of the sport to life on social media.

Strategy and Execution

We started with a simple insight: the more action featured, the more views and excitement are generated for sports. Rather than focus on sailing, we amplified the intensity of the sport and brought the adrenaline-fueled in-person experience into our content. This infused everything from a hyper-targeted digital campaign to build anticipations and ticket sales advertising, to real-time social media coverage of Red Bull activations and the event itself. 


The focus allowed us to be nimble, capturing the spirit rather than scripted content. We leveraged pre-event activations with with action sports athletes, partners and influencers - as well as race day - to be our source of (primarily video) content. We showcased the the drama of real-time events including the $7M F50 catamarans capsizing with big wave surfing legend Kai Lenny on board, a pause in the final race due to whales on the San Francisco Bay course and the ongoing rivalry - which we strategically stoked via social media comments - between the Australia and United States SailGP teams. 


In addition to creating and publishing content from the SailGP brand, we leveraged influential athletes to tap into new audiences and reveal the extreme experience of riding an F50 catamaran. 


Our approach successfully lead to a huge growth in fandom, with a sold-out race event and the league’s largest turn-out to-date. We also saw their highest period of engagement on social with a 75.9% engagement increase and 576% reach increase on Instagram per day compared to their previous race period. There was also a large broadcast tune-in and significant follower increase across channels.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Code3, SailGP


Entry Credits