Name: Mark Towill
Job: Co-Skipper, CEO
Company: 1 Degree Sailing
In 140 characters or less, tell us who you are and how you got to where you are today.
Sailor, environmentalist, entrepreneur, racer, husband – all wrapped into one. An offshore sailor with a love for the ocean. Lucky to make a living out of my biggest passion!
What’s one trend in media or marketing that you’re buying or selling?
Branded content. Our sailing team excels at putting together fascinating and riveting adventure content that organically weaves in our sponsors whether, its featuring our title sponsor 11th Hour Racing or our other partners and suppliers. Branded content is just so important in today’s mobile-first, connected world.
How do you define engagement?
Our team has a stated mission to inspire people towards action that benefit ocean health, so for us engagement depends on inspiring and impacting those that come across us — whether that’s social media, our website, in-person at stopovers and classrooms, or through the media. Ultimately for us, measuring engagement is about how impactful we can be in changing behavior and inspiring people from our leadership.
What’s the project or campaign that you’re proudest of? Why?
My second Volvo Ocean Race campaign with Vestas’ 11th Hour Racing was the first-of-its-kind in the sport of sailing—a team created around the message of sustainability and ocean health, while performing at the highest levels. I was pleased to see that we set the bar for how professional sports teams can compete with the best out there all while being conscious stewards of our planet at the same time.
What are you working on right now? Any exciting future plans that you’re able to share?
Absolutely—we are just a day away from officially announcing our sailing team, 1 Degree, renewing its biggest sponsorship ever with 11th Hour Racing. The sponsorship will allow us to focus our efforts on returning to The Ocean Race, the world’s leading around-the-world sailing race, for the third straight time in 2021. Most importantly, we will have over two years to put the campaign together whereas in the last two editions of the race, we had closer to six-months of preparation time. In a sport like sailing, that is huge and I’m excited that our co-founder Charlie [Enright] and I can really focus on the high performance racing and the mission of 11th Hour Racing focused on sustainability and ocean health right from the get go.
As a connected fan, what’s the best piece of sports content that you have recently consumed?
I’ve been loving “All or Nothing”, the Amazon series that follows different teams through an NFL season in documentary format. You get this unfiltered, fly-on-the-wall perspective of exactly what they are going through which makes it so compelling and so different from a game. I love seeing the emotions of players, the coaches, the challenges they face and how they deal with them; it keeps you glued to the television but is also inspiring.
What’s been the biggest high and low of working in sports?
For me, as both a sailor and head of business development for our team, the high has been two fold—the successes out on the ocean like the various regatta victories or leg wins in The Ocean Race, but also the impact we’ve seen with our message of ocean health, climate change awareness and sustainability together with 11th Hour Racing. Putting a campaign like that together hasn’t been done before in our sport and that was very satisfying. The lows are when you set out to accomplish something in a specific timeline but you aren’t hitting the timelines no matter how hard you work. It’s like “what are we doing wrong?” Sometimes you just have to re-calibrate.
What’s one element of the sports industry that you’d like to see change?
I think all sports need to lead more when it comes to being sustainable, responsible and aware of their impact on the environment. And some—a lot of sports organizations and leagues—are doing a great job with this. I understand that not all sports can be leaders around social issues for whatever reason they may have. But working to protect our planet and be good stewards of our resources is something all leagues need to put as a top line goal on their list of priorities. For many of them, it’s not.
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