It's been quite a year here at Renishaw with many highlights - a 15th Queen's Award, a prestigious Physics award that honoured our co-founders, the opening of our first Mexican subsidiary, our 10th office in China, one of our apprentices being named Gloucestershire's apprentice of the year (in a year that we had a record apprentice intake), the official opening of our new manufacturing facility in South Wales, record financial results reported throughout the year, our global staff numbers passing 3,000 people, and our main assembly facility being named the UK's Best Electronics Plant. And then there was our new balloon.....
In July we launched a hot air balloon out of Gloucester Rugby's stadium. On board was England rugby international Ben Morgan, who we are sponsoring this season - Ben was born just a stone's throw from our HQ, went to school locally and also played his formative rugby at Dursley RFC, with whom we and our staff have strong connections. And it was a night of firsts - the first flight for G-RENI (the aviation code for the balloon), Ben's first balloon ride and first public appearance at the stadium since signing from Llanelli Scarlets, the first time since 1895 that a balloon had flown out of Kingsholm stadium, and the first balloon that we have ever sponsored.
So why a balloon? We were asked that question by a business magazine recently, and here is the short article entitled 'Smart marketing or just hot air?' that Chris Pockett, our Head of Communications, wrote in response:
"I’d always looked into the skies and assumed that hot air balloons were all operated by businesses with the type of marketing budgets that I could only dream of. However, as is often the case, reality is rather different.
An approach from Gloucestershire-based Exclusive Ballooning at the start of 2012 to sponsor (not own) one of their commercially operated balloons appealed on a number of fronts, but primarily to do with raising brand awareness. We would pay them if we wanted the balloon for a specific purpose, but other than that they cover all other costs.
Renishaw is the county’s largest employer with over 1,700 people at our 5 sites, but as a niche technology brand with no consumer products very few people know us – not a problem for most of our history, but we currently have significant vacancies and with a shortage of engineers we are now competing for talent against some very well known engineering businesses in the region.
So, the opportunity of getting our brand ‘eyeballed’ by hundreds of thousands of people across the area simply became too good to resist. But another great attraction was that Exclusive Ballooning is the UK’s only balloon operator certified for wheelchair flights, so we could see a real opportunity to do some good things within the community.
And who doesn’t love to see a balloon in the sky? They bring out the hidden child in us all and to be able to tap into that emotional connection is really powerful. With social media everyone with a camera is now a photo journalist and really benefitted us during the Bristol Balloon Fiesta which was attended by over 500,000 people.
A balloon also gives you marketing opportunities that you never had before – the launch out of Kingsholm Stadium in July was a prime example. That event received great media coverage both locally and overseas – we had customers in the USA watching ESPN that night who contacted us afterwards. It was touch and go with the weather that night which is an issue with ballooning, so unlike many marketing platforms things can be beyond your control.
What has also been great has been the pride expressed by many of our staff at seeing the balloon at the Fiesta, Kingsholm and across the county’s skies. And my proudest moment? It wasn’t Kingsholm, the Fiesta nightglow, or numerous images in The Times, Telegraph or Mail Online, but meeting wheelchair-bound Nigel Holland who came a long way to complete one of his 50 tasks in the Renishaw balloon – see www.the50list.co.uk for details.
We’re only 5 months into a 3-year sponsorship of exciting possibilities – no regrets!"
With its strong colours, the Renishaw balloon really does look great when it appears in the skies of the western regions of England (in the image above it is seen above the skies of Bristol), and we like it so much that is also appears alongside a cartoon depiction of our 19th century HQ building in this year's bespoke animated festive card.
Season's greetings to all and thank you for your support in 2012 and whilst we will aim to post more blogs in 2013, you can see regular daily updates from us throughout the year on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.