How solo achievement was a huge tonic for the do-it-yourself giant

While the whole world applauds Ellen MacArthur’s achievement, marketers at Kingfisher are clapping extra hard – in self-congratulation. By Nigel Currie

The spectacular level of media coverage attracted by Ellen MacArthur over the past few months has alerted sections of the media to the power of sponsorship in a way that no previous single event or occurrence has achieved.

Of course, numerous sporting events or momentous occasions and achievements over the years have attracted blanket media coverage – from Torvill and Dean to Kelly Holmes – but none has contained such a significant, dominant and, more importantly, obvious sponsorship element.

Having been involved with Ellen MacArthur and her team for the past six years, Kingfisher has been able to assess how best to realise the potential value on offer. From a sponsorship perspective, a lot has been learned in that time.

In 2005, the corporate Kingfisher name has been replaced by leading brands within the group – B&Q and Castorama. The branding and positioning of signage has been outstanding and work with the media has also been cleverly planned and skilfully managed. The actual breaking of the world record coincided with the two main national news programmes, even causing the BBC to extend its bulletin by ten minutes. The whole package added up to one of the most successful marketing communications campaigns in recent memory.

It is almost impossible to estimate the total media return on Kingfisher’s investment, but anyone with even a modest knowledge of how the media operates and what advertising costs would know that over the past three months Ellen MacArthur has delivered brand exposure value to her sponsor that is worth several times the level of the original investment. In addition, the goodwill and “feelgood factor” emanating from the triumph will reflect very positively on the sponsor. B&Q is now also going to use MacArthur in its advertising (MW last week), which will add longevity to the campaign and enable B&Q to turn the extraordinary level of consumer awareness into increased sales.

The programme has been successful on all fronts – few sponsorship campaigns deliver quite such wonderful results. More importantly, there will not be a marketing director in the country who would not be wishing that it were his brand emblazoned across the front (and most of the other) pages of every national newspaper. Sponsorship’s ability to take a brand to places where advertising cannot is one of its greatest assets. The exposure across every news and current affairs programme over a 24-hour period is a very good example of this.

Sponsorship as a marketing discipline has received a valuable boost from what Ellen MacArthur has achieved. She, of course, deserves all the plaudits. But she has also made a lot of people sit up and take notice of just what sponsorship programmes can do.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here