Monday, September 20, 2010

Facebook generation?

It is exactly one week ago that Russell Coutts, during a presentation in his team's base in Valencia, argued that a change in the America's Cup was necessary since his target audience would now be the "Facebook generation" and not the "Flintstones generation" as it has been the rule in the previous editions. Since the Facebook generation, according to Coutts' argumentation, wants cool and fast boats, the only way to achieve this is with multihulls.

Although I personally disagree with the choice of boat, arguing about that is meaningless. This is the America's Cup and the Defender will always take the decisions that minimize the risks of defeat. Given the liberty to set the rules of the game, nobody would be naive enough to give up any advantage they might have. Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts have decided that the best option is for the next edition of the Cup to be sailed on 72-foot wingsail catamarans, so we have to live with that and move on.

Facebook generation or "old guys in blue blazers" for the Frank Sinatra generation? Valencia, 13 September 2010. Photo copyright Gilles Martin-Raget / America's Cup

Yet, in the presentation there was a discrepancy, in my opinion, between the message and the way it was conveyed. If the target audience was indeed the Facebook generation why have a show where the old-age stereotypes about sailing are perpetuated once again? With all respect to the commodores of the two yacht clubs, does anyone think that a dull presentation with white-haired old people wearing blue blazers was the right approach? It seemed as if the target wasn't the Facebook generation but rather the Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin generations. One wouldn't expect to have Justin Bieber sing before Coutts made his speech but why not bring a young sailor to make the pitch, especially concerning the Youth America's Cup?

Adam Minoprio is still the world's number one match racer but having now crossed over to the "dark side" by joining Emirates Team NZ, I understand he wouldn't be very welcome in the BMW Oracle base. Still, there are several young, aggressive and successful sailors. Take Torvar Mirsky, Keith Swinton or Phil Roberston. Why not give the stage to them to talk about how "cool" the new boats are and how exciting the Youth America's Cup will be. In fact, I think it's one of the best concepts we heard in the presentation last week and I was surprised how nobody had thought about it in the past. It appears it was an original idea of Tom Ehman, surprisingly another member of the blue-blazer-wearing crowd.

I hope it was just teething problems of the new America's Cup organization and it will be fixed in the near future. They might want to have a look at this video to check what kind of sports the Facebook and YouTube generation is practicing. That's definitely "cool stuff"!

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At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is the definition of cool?...and what would coutts know about cool?

At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pierre, excelente video sobre los deportes cool.
Los traumatologos y profesionales de urgencia en los hospitales te estamos muy agradecidos pues tenemos poco trabajo.
Traumatismos y hernias discales a gogo!

At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "Facebook Generation vs. Flinstone Generation" is a marketing concept planted in Coutts' speech. Russell does not know what Facebook is. (Has he got a page?)

This whole presentation was Flinstone. Not one speaker was anything but Flinstone. And now, they have put Flinstones sailors in charge of the event. So what can you expect.

At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "Youth America's Cup" is not a good idea. Actualy it is the worth thing I have heard.

Not the fact that a series helps sailors work on their skill to get to the AC, but naming it AC is diluting the brand.

By the way, Ehman, what are you doing to prevent "Little America's Cup" to use a trademark for protection of which you ask 25k to each challenger?

At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Pierre, as they say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". You know the phrase, they say it was first used in Greece, 3rd century BC.

The first time the words Cool and Cat were joined was in the 60-ties. As in Cool Cat, a fictional cartoon character created by director Alex Lovy for Warner Bros. The first appearance was in the self-titled short Cool Cat in 1967. Voiced by Larry Storch.

Cool Cat was a tiger whose design was very similar to that of The Pink Panther. A product of his time. He spoke in 1960s-style beatnik slang and acted much like a laid-back 1960s teenager — he was often seen strumming a guitar or traveling cross-country in his dune buggy.

The sailing version of the Cool Cat might be cool to watch. But the world and intention behind it certainly is not. As Warner Bros, the creators are in it for the business. They will do their utmost to create the most unfair cat encounter possible. In fact it might turn out to be cat & mouse.

At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Job Pierre! your new blog approach with personal comments is great. Keep posting what you think is right and wrong with the AC34, you have a lot of people reading this daily.

By the way, Facebook sucks.

At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Ben said...


Don't let yourself succumb to the Sailing Anarchy style opinion piece.

The reason you get so many visits is you are considered a proper journalist.

Keep doing what you were doing. You do it very well.

At 5:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:05 I agree. Although Pierre gives a very clear opinion i think it would be a shame to loose this fantastic blog to the muddy slime of the likes of rule 69 or Sailing anarchy. Please keep it straight and true. Your comments pages are the best even with idiots like WetHog posting daft bias comments.At least wetblog keeps the humour level up and provides agood target.

At 7:38 PM, Blogger WetHog said...

You guys need not convince Mr. Pierre to tone things down. Mr. Pierre is a smart guy who has been providing a great site for at least 4 years now. He's earned the right to run his site how he chooses.

As for me providing humor and a good target, well humor is what I'm all about. Commenting on sailing is fun and thats the way it should be. Some of you take yourselves, and sailing, way to seriously. So light the hell up and join me in the joy of talking shit about sailing.

At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Hemi said...

Have to agree with Ben here Pierre. I think you've made your point. I'm quickly getting turned off by the negative tone of Valencia Sailing, as well as some of the 'anonymous' ramblings that it's provoking.

At 10:10 PM, Blogger Valencia Sailing said...

Hi Hemi,

Thanks for your feedback, it's always useful to know what the readers think. When you say you don't like the "negative tone" I suppose you don't like any criticism against BMW Oracle. That's fair enough but here it regards a very specific issue.

They argue they want to sell the AC to the young generation but their salesmen are of the Frank Sinatra era. If you check the stats of the video I linked, it has been viewed 1.5 million times in less than 3 months. That's the cool stuff people watch. It would be great for the sport of sailing if we ever had a video (without any yachts crashing or sinking) watched so many times in such a short period.

Again, my comment doesn't concern the future yachts or the racing format, just the presentation.


At 10:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Ben - please don't go the way of the Sailing Anarchy or Rule 69 sites which are simply vicious!! For ETNZ to be referred to as the 'dark side' is most unfair. They are a great sailing team.

At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

. . .actually Pierre, you may get to see some of the AC guys pulling moves like those in the vid - the day one fo the wings shits the bed and they have to get out of the way in a hurry. . .

At 3:20 AM, Anonymous Alex said...

I can understand Pierre taking things a bit personally, the decision by BMWO to go for cats with wings may have significant repercussions in high level sailing in Europe, including the loss of several teams from the Medcup and a significant reduction in sponsorship for the match racing circuit.

Long term, the effect could be to kill both events completely, but not replace them with events that are relevant to everyday sailors. The tragedy of AC34 may be the damage it does to yacht racing as a whole, just as events as the Medcup and match racing tour were providing a sustainable base for young sailors to prove themselves in preparation for the AC.

Regarding the "Youth America's Cup", I think that it is a good idea but very poor marketing and branding. It dilutes and cheapens the America's Cup name, and once that name loses it's value, the vent is finished.

Please Russell, go ahead with the youth event, but come up with a better name.

At 9:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments Pierre, its refreshing to hear your opinion as well as info from other sources! And you told it exactly how it is!

At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Paco said...

Keep pushing Pierre. Sailing Anarchy and rule69 have been bought by the BOR PR machine, so its good that some other high profile sailing site confronts them.

At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if Russell would do a whole press conference by rapping?
"Yo homies we are here today, to announce a race that we will sail yoyoyo"

Better yet, replace Tom Ehman with Jay-Z!!

Anyway, AC34 is gonna be jawdropping, as the flagship event of our sport should be!

At 11:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im new to Valencia sailing.Great comments page. Im never looking at Rule 69 again.


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