What Does a Charity Polo Game in Greenwich Have to Do with the JOBS Act?

Aug 4th, 2013 | Filed under: Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Today's Post | By:
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 	06-21-08 © doubtfulneddy By Barbara Tollis, HamptonHedges

By next May, the benefits of the JOBS Act should be in full swing with hedge funds and private equity firms unleashing massive advertising campaigns targeted to the mass affluent, once the domain for luxury brands like Rolex, Land Rover and Asprey.  The Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup at the Greenwich Polo Club — one of the most exclusive sporting venues for ‘those in the know’ in the hedge fund capital of New York and Connecticut – hosted Prince Harry of Wales earlier this May.  If he plays again next year, he could raise millions more for Sentebale, the charity which he co-founded in memory of his mother, Princess Diana, to help poor children and AIDS orphans in the small African nation of Lesotho.

Guests and sponsors will need more than a ‘dollar and a dream’ to break through the barriers of entry to watch Prince Harry play the ‘sport of kings’1 — The JOBS Act provides the keys to the kingdom.  Could there be a better branding and sponsorship opportunity to reach the mass affluent than a charity polo match with Prince Harry or his brother in Greenwich?  Plan to see hedge fund and private equity branding all over the field.

Celebutante sponsors like SkyBridge – which has publicly disclosed that it is already lining up an advertising agency to market its hedge fund products to the retail market – will be joining other billion-dollar hedge fund and private equity firms as well as major asset managers that are waiting in the gate with huge advertising/marketing budgets. Think Blackstone, BlackRock, Fidelity. The inside word is that 400 tickets (including tables) for this year’s charity match at the Greenwich Polo Club — hosted by the club’s billionaire founder, Peter Brant  and his wife, Stephanie Seymour, the former model — were pre-sold in March to those who were on the closed invitation list.  A sponsorship of next year’s Polo Cup may be the best hedge to secure a coveted table.

If you doubt the pent-up demand to market hedge funds to the mass affluent, just think about how much equity is in the photo of Michael Carrazza, the CEO of private equity firm Solaia Capital and Chairman of Patriot National Bank (PNB), standing on the winner’s podium with Prince Harry at the Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup this year.2  Even with a minor injury, he and his team – ‘Team Harry’ – won the charity polo match which raised over $1 million for Sentebale. The cost to play was $30,000, not counting his string of polo ponies.

Google Michael Carrazza. Yes, that is Michael Carrazza who has his hand on the prize – the trophy, not the Prince. One would never break protocol by randomly touching a royal, although there were rumours that a few young ladies — with royal aspirations — curtsied to the Prince, which an American has not been required to do since 1776.  The marketing mileage and international reach of Mr. Carrazza’s photos at the Polo Cup – including the podium shot with Prince Harry — will go a lot further than bragging rights over expensive cigars and Port in the Hamptons on a Saturday night.

Imagine what this kind of exposure will mean to hedge funds and private equity firms now that they are allowed to market their products at upscale entertainment and sporting events, including those with national and international television coverage – like the Ryder Cup.  A domain once reserved for luxury brands, hedge funds and private equity firms can now market directly to those who can afford a string of polo ponies and those who politely cheer for them from the sidelines.

After lunch under a fabulous tent — or a ‘tailgate’ party with Pimms Cup around the boot (trunk) of a Rolls Royce at next year’s Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup – guests will go ‘divot stomping’3, the time honored tradition during half-time, likely sponsored by a hedge fund or private equity firm.  While SkyBridge has openly said it wants to advertise on trains, buses and the subway (Metro) to bring hedge funds to the masses, we don’t think we will be seeing Prince Harry riding the train to Greenwich and smiling for an Instagram.  But, the sponsorship opportunity to stand on the winner’s podium and brush shoulders with a polo playing British prince – none other than the uncle and/or father of royal baby Prince George of Cambridge — in front of a brigade of international photographers: priceless.

1 For a history of ‘The Sport of Kings’:  http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57410915/the-sport-of-kings-polo/

2 For event coverage of this year’s polo match in Greenwich: http://www.businessinsider.com/prince-harry-sentebale-royal-salute-polo-2013-5?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Clusterstock%20Select&utm_campaign=Clusterstock%20Select%202013-05-17&utm_content=emailshare

3For the history of ‘divot stomping’: http://www.sportpolo.com/spectators/default.htm

Barbara Tollis is founding principal of New York-based HamptonHedges, a public relations, marketing and communications consultancy for the global alternative investments including hedge funds and private equity firms as well as service providers and industry associations.  Philanthropy is in the firm’s DNA and HamptonHedge’s work with its clients becomes even more meaningful with social responsibility. To learn about Sentebale, www.sentebale.org.

 

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  1. This is just the first step into the new world of equity advertising. It won’t be long until we see mass adoption within the event hospitality industry. It will help to replace the major losses from the departure of pharma within sports and events hospitality.

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