Paddock magazine December 2014 / January 2015 Issue 70 - Page 38

Sponsorship Column COLUMNS Formula 1 2014 sponsorship roundup By Bill Herring | The 2014 season brought both good news and tough challenges for the sponsorship scene. It was great to see Martini back in Formula 1, but now there is pressure to eliminate alcohol sponsorships. Senior sponsorship execs are tapped for new roles and there are numerous changes in team sponsorships. Let’s take a closer look. The 2014 Formula 1 season started with the announcement from sports marketing firm Repucom that Infiniti, a Red Bull Racing partner, became the first Formula 1 team sponsor to gain more than US $1 billion in advertising value. This is based on the amount of time the brand was visible during TV broadcasts of qualifying sessions and races. While team title sponsorships are estimated to cost as much as £70 million (approximately US $100 million), Infiniti seem to have gotten their money back and gained extensive exposure during the years of Red Bull dominance. F1 series sponsorship changes UBS reduced its sponsorship commitment following a change in chief executive at the Swiss bank. Swiss newspaper Blick reported that UBS reached a new agreement that reduced trackside advertising and also ended title sponsorship of the Chinese Grand Prix. The paper said UBS is scaling down its annual spend on Formula 1 from $54 million to $32 million. The loss of revenue from UBS seems to have been offset with the announcement in September of whiskey company Johnnie Walker as Formula 1’s Official Whisky. The partnership has been estimated at a rather staggering £155 million by the Mirror newspaper. Johnnie Walker’s Formula 1 connections go back to the 1950s and they continue to sponsor the McLaren Mercedes team. Unfortunately at season-end, we’ve seen a call for the end of alcohol sponsorship in the sport, reminiscent of the ban on tobacco sponsorship. The European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare) provided FIA president Jean Todt with this salvo in November. Johnnie Walker is joined in Formula 1 by Smirnoff’s sponsorship of Sahara Force India and Martini’s sponsorship of Williams. The concern is the role of drinking in road accidents and the visibility of alcohol in the premier motorsport series. The FIA have sought to distance themselves from the issue and pointed to their Action for Road Safety as evidence of FIA commitment to road safety and prevention of drunk-driving. Diageo, parent company of Johnnie Walker and other alcohol brands, joined the fight by claiming that Formula 1 sponsor- 38 ship provides the platform for their Join the Pact campaign. Diageo state the program has reached half a billion people worldwide with its “Don’t drink and drive” message. So the battle has been joined, putting the FIA in an awkward position given its road safety program and relationship with the World Health Organisation, where the FIA are responsible for both road safety and alcohol control. No conclusion to the issue is yet in sight, it appears to be a tough slog ahead. Is sponsorship the route to the top? Diageo is also in the news at the end of the season due to reports that former Diageo chief executive Paul Walsh has been approached about becoming the next chairman of Formula One Group, replacing Peter Brabeck-Letmathe who is already planning to step down. Walsh had a successful career at Diageo and the idea seems to be that he is the man to build up the Formula 1 business in preparation for a future share flotation. A decision on appointing Walsh could be made by publication time. After the conclusion of the season, a similar situation played out at Scuderia Ferrari, seeing the team replace team principal Marco Mattiacci after just eight months with former Phillip Morris executive Maurizio Arrivabene. Arrivabene was a senior executive overseeing Marlboro’s long-lasting and multi-million dollar sponsorship of Ferrari. Arrivabene also has represented all sponsors on an Formula 1 sponsorship commission since 2010. His level of engagement in both Ferrari and Formula 1 in general appears to have won the day for him; Fiat Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne lauded Arrivabene’s understanding of Ferrari and the governance mechanisms and requirements of the sport. Wins and losses There was a fair bit of activity in 2014 with team sponsorships; perhaps the most notable news was what happened for Williams and what didn’t happen for McLaren. Here are the highlights of the season’s sponsorship changes: Williams Martini Racing Many long-term fans were pleased to see the return of drinks thepaddockmagazine.com