Until 2013 Swiss luxury watch brand, Rolex was the main sponsor of the international equestrian federation, FEI. In 2013 the FEI decided to start a cooperation with Swiss brand, Longines. The watchmaker agreed to pay at least 100.000.000 euro, in 10 years time.
With the end of this agreement in sight, it seems like luxury brand, Rolex has a stronger foot on wall as ever before. Still, thanks to Jan Tops' Longines Global Champions Tour, the current watch partner, Longines can keep his head high!
The initial idea of the sponsorship with the FEI was to promote the sport and boost all disciplines. Over seven years later it seems organizers of iconic Longines events seem to switch partner and opt for Rolex. Last weekend the CSIO La Baule announced to say its goodbyes to the FEI Nations Cup circuit and associate itself with Rolex. Before also the CSIO5* Rome made the same decision.
With the Rolex Grand Slam competitions in Aachen, Spruce Meadows, 's Hertogenbosch and Geneva, as well as the Rolex competitions in Rome, Knokke, Brussels and now La Baule, the Swiss luxury watch brand seems to be stronger than before as an independent sponsor.
The reason? It actually is very simple. Longines is associated to the FEI, not the organizer of the CSI5/CDI5/CCI* (Nations Cup) competitions, itself. In other words, the FEI decides how much support they transfer from the general sponsorship to the organization of the international competition. This often turns out to be substantially less than what a main sponsor would pay.
For any organizer the decision is easily made, with new rising costs to organize top level events.