On 12 November 2005, two state-of-the-art sailing boats, ABN AMRO ONE and ABN AMRO TWO, left Vigo, Spain, for Cape Town, South Africa, in the prestigious Volvo Ocean Race (VOR), finishing 216 days and 31,250 nautical miles later in Gothenburg, Sweden. This was the first time that ABN AMRO (AA) had participated in a global sporting event, let alone one with a worldwide client hospitality program, including a huge traveling pavilion that attracted over a million spectators in nine countries. Furthermore, the bank made the decision not just to sponsor an existing sailing team, but also to participate in the race. Through an embedded organization called ABN AMRO Brand & Sail Company (AABS), the bank organized two new sailing teams in-house, designed and built its own boats, and developed an extensive branding and marketing campaign. AA used the race to promote its ‘one bank philosophy’ to existing and potential customers, as well as employees of all its international branches. While moving towards their goal, however, AA encountered many obstacles. Daily marketing operations in particular were under stress. One could not help but wonder whether VOR was the best way to promote the ‘one bank philosophy.’ How and to what extent did the VOR contribute to promoting the philosophy? Was it worthwhile establishing a separate company 'AABS' to achieve such results? What alternatives might AA have explored?

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Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Volberda, H. (2009). ABN AMRO in the Volvo Ocean Race: A Bank Learning to Sail as One Team. RSM Case Development Centre. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/38683