Wednesday, July 25, 2012

An Incomplete and Non-Scientific Guide to Finding Yourself a Sailing Helmet

Part 1- Where is the Marketing?

Isn’t one of the cornerstones of America culture a rampant commercialism-  the need to sell stuff to people, all kinds of stuff, whether they need it or not, whether they have the money to buy it or not?  Why then, when I truly feel I need something, is no one trying to sell it to me?  Someone is dropping the ball here.

I have been yearning to buy sailing helmet.  Tillerman says helmets are cool.  They make a superior sailing hat.  Volvo ocean racers wear them.  AC 45 crews all have to wear them.  Kids, at the insistence of their parents, wear them to minimize concussions from forceful, unintended contact with a rapidly moving boat part.  There are lots of good reasons.

It’s about time someone started marketing sailing helmets.  I’m not asking that anyone actually give a lot of thought to designing, or redesigning, a helmet just for sailing.  That’s a lot to ask.  Caveat Emptor for the consumers.  But can’t someone just rebrand the helmets they already have and sell them to sailors?  Sailors are curious, if not eager, for information about helmets as they see helmeted sailors in the Volvo Ocean Race and the AC 45’s series.  I’m no expert in marketing, but it seems to me that helmet manufacturers have an unprecedented opportunity to promote themselves as “the” sailing helmet. They need to point out why a sailing helmet is the most urgently needed piece of gear we don’t already own and suggest that their product will best fill that particular void in our sailing experience, making us feel warm and fuzzy all over.  And they need to convince us that helmets are cool.

At first blush, it might seem difficult to advocate the need for a helmet without suggesting that sailing is a dangerous sport, but any good marketer should be able to spin “dangerous” into “exciting and adventurous.”  Any exciting and adventurous sport requires gear, and who wouldn’t want all the great gear that goes with it?

Good marketing associates gear with professionals and their accomplishments.  With the latest wave of prominent sailors wearing helmets, how hard would it be to sell us the same headgear our heroes use?  If the pros use helmets, then I want a helmet too!  One would think the manufacturers would at least utilize pictures of these sailing elites sporting their products.  Gath is the only one I have seen do this.  They have a video of Oracle wearing their hats. (Unfortunately, Oracle has since switched to using a Red Bull advertisement on a Bern helmet.)

The Volvo Ocean Race and the America’s Cup 45 races provide lots of marketing images for manufacturers to use.  Let me help some of the companies who are not helping themselves.  Gath and ProTec seem to be the most popular, but many manufactures are represented.  My apologies for any mistakes in my attempt to play Name that Helmet.

Volvo Ocean Racer wearing  a Gath Retractable Full Visor Helmet

Emeritus Team New Zealand with 3 Protec "Ace" helmets and one Predator "Lee" helmet

Oracle with 5 Gath "Surf" helmets and one ProTec "Ace" helmet

Nathan Otteridge of Team Korea with  a Gath "Surf Convertible" helmet

 Lune Rosa skipper with a Sweet Strutter helmet

Close up of a ProTec "Ace" sometimes used by Oracle

 Oracle's new Red Bull helmets by Bern

 Artemis AC Team wearing hard to find POC "Receptor Bug" helmets

So, where is the marketing?  Isn’t anyone proud that the best sailors in the world use their helmets?
If the professional racer/ helmet connection is not enough, what about the beautiful bodies connection?   If scantily dressed supermodels wore helmets while sailing off exotic beaches, wouldn’t you be more inclined to use one?


1 comment:

  1. I am surprised that nobody has started a sailing helmets blog yet. It's the ultimate niche within a niche. And when the marketing explosion for sailing helmets does happen, the owner of that blog will make a killing on sailing helmet ads.

    PS - the domain is still available.