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GP Week : Issue 180
Formula One world champions McLaren have unveiled a new sponsorship deal with shaving products maker Gillette. The deal, which kicked off in Shanghai, focuses on Asia and has been viewed by many as a possible precursor to the brand taking over title sponsorship of the team. McLaren announced over the Australian Grand Prix weekend that their agreement with long- time sponsor Vodafone would not be renewed at the end of the year after the British telecoms firm, currently in its 12th season in the sport, reviewed its overall marketing strategy. Since then, speculation over who will bag the deal to sponsor one of the most successful teams in Formula One has been rife. The rumour mill has churned out several names, from Carlos Slim’s Telmex to Gillette to pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (who already sponsor the Woking-based squad through Lucozade and other brands). Gillette, owned by household goods giant Proctor & Gamble, is the latest in a growing list of consumer brands entering the sport in recent years and highlights a shift in Formula One’s sponsor base. Gone are the days when tobacco companies spent a lavish amount of money on the sport for drivers to be photographed dressed like a packet of Lucky Strikes or Benson & Hedges, with only Philip Morris hanging around but getting no mileage for their association with Ferrari. Instead, consumer goods companies – like Unilever through its Rexona and Clear brands – have entered the sport as firms keen to offset slowing demand in their home markets ride on the back of Formula One’s push into Asian countries to tap into the potential offered by rising incomes in those emerging markets. Gillette’s entry into the sport also comes on the heels of such blue-chip names as UPS, Emirates and Blackberry – to name but a few – entering the fray and indicates that while the financial crisis may be raging and sponsorship rates down, Formula One’s appeal for companies looking to tap new markets remains undiminished. F1 >>> NEWS GILLETTE: The best a team can get? 8 GPWEEK.com // 8 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: