A few weeks after announcing that its title sponsorship deal with Vodafone would end in December, McLaren has today unveiled a new sponsorship with Gillette, initially focussed on Asia. And it offers some pointers to McLaren’s long term commercial plans.
The deal begins as of this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.
Despite strong signals that money supply is tight for many teams in F1, this deal also indicates that there is a willingness for global companies to enter the sport, following on the heels of the arrival of Emirates, Rolex, UPS, Blackberry and Experian in the last few months. Gillette Brazil had an involvement in Williams with Bruno Senna.
It is also worth noting a change of sectors getting interested in F1, with more packaged goods companies and consumer goods companies coming in recently, like Glaxo Smith Kline on McLaren, Unilever on Lotus and now Proctor and Gamble, Gillette’s owner, with McLaren. F1′s global footprint is unmatched in any other mass media sport.
When announcing the end of the Vodafone deal, McLaren suggested that it would announce a new title sponsor in December. Gillette was one of the names rumoured to be in the frame. The activation this season will be focussed on Asia.
Seventy percent of Gillette’s activities and profits are outside the US and, as with many global companies, Asia represents a prospect of growth. F1 now has a strong footprint in Asia with six races, however the following for the sport there is taking some time to build; only 10% of the global TV audience is in Asia Pacific, compared to over 60% for Europe.
Interestingly Carlos Slim, Sergio Perez’ backer, employed what he called a “Gillette plan” to grow his Telmex business in Latin America. By selling his mobile handsets at a loss, like Gillette did with its razor handles, he made his money on the pre-paid phone cards, lowering the barrier for entry when getting people connected.
* McLaren continues to lead the way on sustainability in F1. This week it announced that it has retained its “carbon-neutral” status and formed a partnership with CNI, which will join the team as an Associate Partner for Sustainability.