AS THE three year olds round the bend at Tattenham Corner in this Saturday’s Epsom Derby, they’ll be roared home by a crowd of tens of thousands, forced to miss the last two iterations of the famous race due to Covid-19 restrictions.
But while the noise will certainly be different this year, one thing won’t be, with the greatest flat race in the world once again sponsored by online used car marketplace Cazoo.
For Stephen Morana, the firm’s chief financial officer, it’s more than an excuse for a day out – though as a man who grew up next to Aintree he’s not averse to the turf.
“We’re trying to get people to buy the most expensive asset they buy outside of a house, and you’re asking people to do that with something they can’t see or touch,” he tells City A.M.
“So we’ve got to build that confidence, build a trusted brand very fast. And we’ve decided that sport was a great way of doing that, partnering with sports brands that give people that degree of confidence around us.”
Indeed Cazoo have made sports sponsorship part of their expansion playbook as they grow into new territories.
Just last week they announced a shirt sponsorship deal with Italian football side Bologna which will coincide with the marketplace’s launch in that market. In addition to Bologna, Cazoo sponsors football clubs in Spain, France, Germany and the UK.
For all the excitement that comes with sponsorship, though, Morana – who prior to Cazoo was at Betfair and Zoopla – is realistic about the economic environment Cazoo is facing.
“We set out with a playbook that needed to invest in our brand because you can’t sell cars remotely if people haven’t heard of you and if people don’t trust you, so it’s a bit of the cart before the horse: you need to build up the brand.
“We’re delivering on that but obviously, none of us were expecting how challenging the environment we’d have,” he says.
“We’re still growing and growing heavily and we’ll continue to grow but we’ve also got to be more sensible and pragmatic.”
Just like a Derby winner then, Cazoo will need to stay the course in a competitive field.