As an Australian here in a foreign land, there are a scant number of events I have ever attended as essentially British as the Henley Royal Regatta.
There are few events, especially on the sporting calendar, with the prestige and tradition of the Henley Royal Regatta. While many other sporting events tweak their rules to speed up the pace of the game or allow more fan interaction, the Regatta continues to protect its core values and traditions and use those as its most powerful tools for attracting an audience. The Regatta is both a sporting event, the most famous on the rowing calendar, and a social event that draws in swathes of visitors. Both sides of the event fully embrace all the rules and tradition of the event, revelling in the history and grandeur of it all.
This immediate link to prestige and tradition offers brands an incredible opportunity to be associated with all of these values. The likes of Aston Martin and Hackett have established themselves in this sector and used the Regatta to their advantage to further cement themselves as prestige brands. Events can often try to step away from what they are at their core in the hopes of being more inclusive, but the Regatta embraces its history and delivers an authentic event. It might not be for everyone, but those who do enjoy it become encapsulated by it.
While tradition forms the core, and much of the charm, of the Henley Royal Regatta, the event has managed to keep pace with the world and increase its accessibility to a global audience. A YouTube live stream, first introduced in 2015, has only grown more popular each year and has allowed fans from around the world to tune into the racing action. It’s not only good for fans, but also offers a big boost to event sponsors who are exposed to a wider audience in a variety of markets. The integration of a digital offering has only enhanced the events, not changed it with in-play advertising or the like.
The exciting prospect is that there are still plenty of areas for the Regatta to explore further! While the sport is at the core of the event, the social aspect is amajor draw for many. Given the numbers of young visitors to the event and the potential reach of the correct influencer, there is a great opportunity to further push the Regatta onto the next generation of attendees. From high-society celebrity stars to up-market fashion vloggers, there is plenty of scope for sponsor-driven activations across their various social media accounts.
The Henley Royal Regatta is a true highlight of the British Summer, made even better by the heat wave, and should continue to be held in as high regard by brands and potential sponsors as it is by the people who attend it.