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Another major brand enters F1: Gillette joins McLaren
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Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Apr 2013   |  9:15 am GMT  |  50 comments

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.

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50 Comments
  1. Gul says:

    JB in the adverts :)

    1. Random 79 says:

      I can hear the screams from here… :)

    2. AuraF1 says:

      Some drivers have to sacrifice a lot…but JB clearing off the bum-fluff might push him over the edge ;)

  2. Dale says:

    I fear the futures not so bright for McLaren, I guess a lot will depend on who their next title sponsor will be and what that deal provides in cash terms (and of course their association yet to be confirmed with Honda).
    McLaren have been at the front for what seems like forever though let’s not forget Williams were once one of the big 3 together with Ferrari and look at Williams now and their decline all started with not having the money to compete against the likes of McLaren (yes I know; as well as losing Newey).
    I don’t believe there can be more than 3 top teams at any one time and Ferrari will always have one of those slots even if they’re not winning and so long as Newey stays at Redbull they’ll also have a slot and in my opinion, it’s only a matter of time before Mercedes cement their position in the top 3, after all they probably have resource available to them through the whole parent company that are second to none and if this happens where will McLaren be?
    I cannot remember the last time McLaren did not have at least one of the acknowledged top 3 drivers driving for them and, again, in my opinion Button is no Hamilton, Vettel or Alonso – yes give him a huge car advantage and he’ll win but that isn’t going to happen and unlike Alonso and Hamilton Button is no good if the car is anything less that very near perfect.

    1. Dave says:

      Yet Button had a guaranteed fifth in a car that is slower than a Force India in Malaysia three weeks ago

    2. David Ryan says:

      McLaren went through a lean patch in both the late 1970s/early 1980s and the mid-1990s. Likewise, Ferrari has been through some desperately bad patches in its long history. Yet both teams survive to this day, as does Williams, because F1 is their lifeblood and so they will always work to get back on form. The teams whose futures I would be more concerned about are those like Red Bull/Toro Rosso and Force India, given that they continue to exist out of the personal whimsy of their owners. That can change very quickly, as both Honda and Toyota demonstrated. The teams which are there for racing’s sake, in contrast, are more likely to still be there in 10 years’ time.

    3. Calum says:

      I think you raise a few good points although it’s also worth remembering:

      - McLaren have made considerable moves to diversify their income streams, so the comparison to Williams isn’t quite so straight forward.
      - A tie-up with Honda might mean considerably cheaper engines than the customer price they’ll be paying Merc.
      - The heart says yes neither Jenson nor Sergio are another Fernando/Seb/Lewis but remember that Jenson outscored Lewis by 15pts during their time as team mates.

      I think it was important to get a good-news story out for McLaren after so many months of things going wrong and personnel departures. The short to medium term fight-back might well be on as well if Jonathan Neal’s comments are borne out on track.

      In short, I think there are more grounds to be optimistic then pessimistic conerning Wokings future.

      1. Yak says:

        Can we just stop quoting this “Jenson beat Hamilton over three years” rubbish already? It’s an utterly pointless “fact”. JB outscoring LH doesn’t mean he genuinely outperformed him.

        Give Hamilton the 25 points from EITHER the Singapore or Abu Dhabi GPs last year, that he should have taken if not for the car falling apart… suddenly Lewis is back in front. And that’s just taking one of two, and those two are just two out of many more team failures over the 2013 year that cost Hamilton significantly.

        I don’t even particularly like Hamilton. Or Jenson for that matter. I’m just sick of that little stat being thrown about as if it actually means anything.

        If Nico Hulkenberg’s car DNFs with (non-driver-related) mech failures at every race for the rest of the season, would you look at the points table at the end and say, “Well clearly Gutierrez is by far the superior driver at Sauber”?

      2. Calum says:

        Then why bring it up Yak?

        The original post mentioned that McLaren don’t have a top driver. What’s not relevant about looking at a team mate comparison to gauge the strength of that comment?

        If you’re taking into account Lewis’s retirements then you also need to take into account his team mates as well.

        My point is that if Lewis is considered an A-lister then what does that say about the person who accumulated more points in the same machinery.

        I love watching Lewis drive nevertheless he sometimes doesn’t drive with his brain in the same gear as his car. For example, to this day I think his crashes in the Italian and Singapore GP’s in 2010 cost him the title that year. Agree that McLarens failures last year cost him the 2012 title.

      3. JEZ Playense says:

        I agree in some respects.

        I would also add that if Lewis is really the wonder driver as some would claim, he should have been a great deal more successful in the team competition with Button.

        For me Button and Hamilton are equally able, but not in the league of Raikkonen, Alonso or Vettel.

      4. Cliff says:

        All we hear is that you have to first beat your team-mate. Button beats his and now “it’s an utterly pointless fact”.

      5. Robert says:

        The point is that after three whole seasons, failures, accidents and the like kind of average out between drivers. In year 2 of the partnership, JB legitimately was #2 in the WDC, ahead of, well, everyone but Seb. And he won the WDC two years prior to THAT, in an underfunded team that he helped hold together by taking a large pay cut. You are correct, the points alone don’t mean too much, but taking with his WDC performance and near miss, that says more than some people like to admit.

      6. B.Diddy says:

        @ Cliff yes you do have to beat your team mate in three seasons together Lewis finished above Jenson two out of three seasons.
        Lewis out qualified Jenson more times, had more pole positions and race victories.
        Yes Jenson had more cumulative points over the three seasons however this stat doesn’t represent the true picture Jenson had one season 2011 where he performed better than Lewis, without Maclaren’s failings (at least 90 points lost) Lewis should have one the WDC last season.
        Which would totally negate the one stat that Jenson can boast about.

  3. Good deal for McLaren.

    Companies like Gillette are in the consumer staples sector which tends to be a defensive industry.

    What this means is that they spend money on marketing when the economy is strong as well as when it is weak. To illustrate with Gillette, people will generally buy razors (and shampoo etc.) whether the economy is doing well or not

    It is important for F1 companies to have stable, long term sponsors like this so I think this is one of the main reasons we have seen the growth in these type of deals.

    1. I know says:

      That’s true for the sector in general, but no longer necessarily so for a brand like Gilette – if money is tight, consumers often switch to cheaper, generic brands. Also, in some emerging markets (China being a good example), brands like Gilette are still seen as luxury products.

      That does not mean that investing in advertisement is a bad idea, of course – and McLaren, especially with Jenson Button (already featured in P&G campaigns), looks like a good fit to Gillette. I don’t think they’ll be title sponsors, though – probably more interested in specific campaigns, where we’ll see faces rather than cars (incidentally, I think Mr. Whitmarsh himself would be a great ambassador for men’s grooming products).

    2. F1 Badger says:

      Interesting point well made.

  4. Seán Craddock says:

    Does this mean bye bye to Jenson’s beard?

    1. Monji says:

      You sir have lots of imagination…

      Well done :-)

    2. Jesse James says:

      I think it’s already gone…
      Vide: http://photos.gpupdate.net/newsnew/220296.jpg

      1. Gul says:

        NO WAY :(

  5. Matt Meir says:

    Interesting how more ‘personal’ brands are getting involved in the marketing side of the soort; Lucozade, Maxi-Muscle and now Gillette. Lotus and McLaren definitely seem to attract the 20-40 year old male-targeting companies.

  6. Laurence H says:

    The rear wing looks a bit like a disposable razor. Will Gillette bring out a DRS razor, where one of the blades will flip down to improve the flow of the razor across the skin? But only once per shave.
    Or some other marketing nonsense?

    1. AuraF1 says:

      And will we get a consumer uproar from traditionalist shavers who demand an end to ‘artificial hair removal aids’ and think it should be down to the shaver to achieve the proper closeness?

  7. goferet says:

    Ha, wouldn’t be surprised to see Jenson’s beard disappear after this Gillette deal.

    Yes, congrats to Mclaren on sealing this deal, this can only mean Mclaren have got to grips with the 2013 car and assured Gillette, the team is on the up and up.

    As for Asia, definitely the market to target both in the far east and the middle east.

    Just recently, the Chinese tourists have been ranked as the biggest spenders ahead of the Germans and Americans.

    P.s.

    So that would make it 4 north American companies on board since the US Grand Prix got back on the calendar.

    Yes, need to race in the US more.

  8. Jack says:

    Great news for McLaren. Great partner to have on board. if only Gillette wouldn’t charge so damm much for their razors.

  9. goferet says:

    Meanwhile Gillette have their work cut out by trying to take a slice of the Asian pie for last I checked China and especially Japan are the world leaders when it comes to producing sharp metals such as razors, knives and the like.

    So yeah, good luck Gillette.

    1. Yak says:

      I think that might be somewhat simplifying things. I doubt there’d be too many in Japan refusing to buy Gillette based on their disposable razors and razor cartridges not using authentic hand worked Japanese steel, forged using techniques passed down through over centuries.

      While people in Japan like quality, it’s often actually a case of PERCEPTION of quality. A basic example being pricing something higher so that people think, “Oh that one’s more expensive, therefore it must be better.” No, I’m not just making that up. Of course some things are expected to be cheap, so if you overprice, it’ll just be seen as a rip-off.

      It’s a strange market, for many reasons.

  10. RobInLeeds says:

    Aha, McLaren’s solution to their aero issues has been revealed. A new 5 element rear wing!

    1. Matt says:

      Very sharp!

    2. Seán Craddock says:

      +1

      and next year will see the Mach 3 TURBO

  11. Will clean shaven drivers be the order of the day now !!?

    1. James Farish says:

      Yea, i heard this was the deal breaker for Lewis Hamilton…

  12. CYeo says:

    Does this mean their drivers cannot appear scruffy anymore?

    1. Joel says:

      They go in the car scruffy and then come out clean shaven :)

  13. Random 79 says:

    If Button and Perez start fighting on track, how long before someone makes a ‘that was a close shave’ joke?

    Good news for McLaren, maybe not so good news for Button ;)

  14. Bring Back Murray says:

    Wonder with this new deal they’ll be able to shave a few seconds off their lap times

    (apologies!)

    1. Random 79 says:

      No need for apologies lol :)

      Strangely…

      Vodafone can be a sponsor: No Jokes.
      UBS can be a sponsor: No jokes.
      Even Burn can be a sponsor: No jokes.

      But Gillette joins and they all come out of the woodwork lol :)

  15. Richard D says:

    Perhaps this new sponsorship will fund cutting edge technology and McLaren will be back at the front!

  16. Rishi says:

    Good to see high-profile sponsors entering the sport during a difficult commercial climate, even if I assume the team’s rate card (helps determine the amount they can charge prospective sponsors) is still lower than it was when it did the Vodafone deal back in 2006 or so.

    On a lighter note, the pun possibilities from this deal are endless: McLaren looking to shave a few tenths of their lap time; Jenson, for all his stubble, had a close shave when he won his 2009 title because the other drivers all caught him up after he’d built that big lead; Sergio looking razor-sharp after his preparations for the new season etc. etc..

  17. Anne says:

    Well I´m very happy for McLaren and their new sponsor. However for me the most interesting part of the article is the T.V. audience numbers. I´d like to know the number of T.V. audience in the Americas as well. Why are we having so many races in Asia? It´s very clear that they don´t care.

  18. Andrew Carter says:

    Oh the irony, Jensen’s had a beard for years!

    As a fellow beardy I hope they don’t tell him to shave it off, or at least he tells them to stuff it.

    1. Laurence H says:

      Jenson hardly has a beard. At best I’d call it stubble. Us beardies have to have standards and definitions…

      1. Random 79 says:

        +10

    2. Laurence H says:

      Henri Pescarolo. Now there was an F1 beard…

      1. Andrew Carter says:

        Still has!

  19. Gazz says:

    Jenson would never shave off his stubble for the team, after all he does not believe in team orders…. lol Seriously though, this is a great deal for McLaren in a very hard financial climate. Any commercial deal is a worthy one so good luck to them. Jenson is no different to any other WDC in that they all need a good car to win. The “if’s and but’s” of F1″ will always be the subject of debate and hindsight is a wonderful thing, but facts are facts and Jenson has done a fantastic job up against the quickest driver in F1.

  20. Brad says:

    You’ve gotta love this blog? Suddenly you’re all marketing whizzes?? Why don’t you get a stamp , write on the back all you know about marketing and mail it to Ron.

    Mclaren have forgotten a life times worth of experience in marketing and winning sponsors, more than this collective knows. They are the best in the biz.

    Next season they will have brought out the big guns with Honda et al on board.

    Now back to the racing?

  21. Adam Codony says:

    Good for McLaren… now I just hope that doesn’t mean Bruno is back as a reserve driver…

  22. Paige says:

    Look, McLaren is always going to be around. They always get talented people, they are one of the most business savvy teams on the grid, and they never go too long without a works partnership- which is the common ingredient in most of their championships, which came when they were the works team for Honda and McLaren. Now there is talk that Honda is coming back in as a works partner with McLaren, so I think it’s safe to say that it won’t be any longer than until about 2017 before they are winning championships again.

  23. Random 79 says:

    Just saw a picture of Button in China…sans stubble. Who would have thought! :)

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