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F1 sponsor breaks through $1 billion barrier for TV exposure
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Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  15 Jan 2014   |  2:48 pm GMT  |  74 comments

Red Bull’s title partner, Infiniti, has become the first Formula One team sponsor to receive over US $1billion in a season in advertising value – according to the leading global research company Repucom.

Against a backdrop of declining TV audiences in some markets, the figure is an astonishing one, considering that the cost of a title sponsorship for a leading F1 team is around £70 million per year. Although Repucom’s data suggests a high return on investment ratio, good sponsorships for teams are proving hard to find, with only a handful of teams lucky enough to have a title sponsor. McLaren recently lost Vodafone and have yet to identify its replacement, while big names like Lotus, Williams and Sauber have gone a few seasons without a title sponsor.

Nigel Geach, a well known figure in the F1 paddock and vice president at Repucom said, “Clear branding on the car, team and drivers in addition to significant airtime thanks to the team’s strong on track performance throughout the year, gave Infiniti the advertising equivalency value of over $1billion from Global TV coverage -an amazing achievement.”

The $1 billion figure is measured scientifically from time on screen against a rate card; it has been accumulated through media advertising and brand recognition of Infiniti on the team’s cars, drivers and team personnel during TV coverage of Grand Prix weekends. The recognition, however, does not necessarily equate to increased sales, simply familiarity of the brand.

“We get huge exposure. The first season with Red Bull Racing the quantitative data showed we got US $250 million of media value, then we got US$339 in the second season,” said Andreas Sigi, Global Director of Infiniti Formula One. “This is logo exposure through the live coverage of qualifying and racing. If you then add everything else we do it’s huge, but that only means people have heard of Infiniti.
 
“Then the next step is ‘What do we stand for?’ Are we a performance brand or a premium brand and that takes time.”

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74 Comments
  1. MikeP says:

    Marketing men, don’t you just love them, I’ve met very few who are really good and plenty who are very very bad… Sounds very much like a ploy to justify their jobs and their next payrise.

    Well I’m glad I’m an engineer, at least we get some genuine respect and we can sleep soundly in our beds without the lingering aroma of Bull —t.

    1. Juzh says:

      Bro, their company is on the rise. I think their marketing is doing their job just fine.

      1. MikeP says:

        Spoken like a true marketing man, I’d strongly recommend you speak to the Global Director of Infiniti Formula One. If Infiniti are indeed spending $70M per year “Raising their profile” and yet their own Global Director is asking the question “What do we stand for” They could obviously do with a little helps.

        Maybe I’ll give up this Design Engineering lark and move into marketing, it seems a lot easier to me, when I spend a few Million on product Designs / Development our Board are so unreasonable, they actually want me to delivery something of substance …Unbelievable isn’t it!!!!!

      2. Kevin says:

        As a marketeer that has to ‘sell’ technical people like you, I think you need to get over yourself. As an Engineer you have the luxury of dealing in absolutes. “Will this bridge fall down?” yes or no. “Will this lubricant increase engine efficiency?” yes or no. Its not simple but your success can be easily quantified. That you you are not capable of understanding the following: “Are we a performance brand or a premium brand and that takes time.” shows that you should stop trolling on things you lack the capacity to understand.
        Brands are built over time and are responsive to their market. It is the customer who will decide who infinity stand for and they have to be ready to listen and implement. My team have just finished rolling out a new financial product here in Sydney and we’re going to the UK to do it. And guess what…. it will change. The UK market is different so we will adapt.
        Bed Bull and Infinity have done a brilliant job for F1 and for their brands. If you don’t think marketing plays a part in telling engineers what to design than have a look at Detroit motor city. Ruined because all they wanted to build was stupid, expensive fuel guzzling cars that no-body wanted. They couldn’t adapt fast enough to the changing times and build small, efficient, cheap vehicles to suit a post GFC economy and Asian imports. But thats okay.. Detroit new what they stood for!
        I don’t expect an Engineer to be able to grasp this concept but ill try. Not all of us have the luxury of making decisions based on physical laws and arithmetic calculations. Marketeers like me have to apply imperfect human judgment, in changing conditions, without enough resources because ‘techies’ think they are the front line of the business.
        I would highly recommend you stick to Engineering. Clearly your a spreadsheet guy.

      3. MikeP says:

        Reply to Kevin

        Dear Kevin,
        You response shows immediately your disdain / dislike of us Engineers (or “Techies” as you prefer to call us). After spending four years within a major international corporation working as a Major Account Manager, I can assure you, I do know a little bit about marketing.

        You won’t be surprised to hear that I was more than a little pleased to move back in R&D and product development. Most of the Sales and Marketing teams we briefed (on new products) had no real interest in anything that resembled “details”, bullet points yes, but details no, certainly not a lot of interest there.

        From the perspective of us “Techies” they seemed far more interested in what company car they could wangle next and obviously which one of them had the biggest watch. There was certainly a correlation between the size of the salesman’s Ego and the diameter of the watch, (but as you’re from that environment you probably haven’t noticed). Please take a look around next time you have your end of quarter meeting, but I should warn you, there’s a major risk of leaving with a feeling or gross inadequacy.

        Now if you can be bothered to read the comments below you see that your view is really in the minority, but you can always justify it (in you own mind) by condemning the rest of us as ignoramuses
        Techies and the like, I sure that will make you feel better.

        And finally, by the way, I must correct you, “spreadsheets” (and the ineviable PowerPoint presentations) are more the forte of “marketing”.
        Design Engineers are more calculators and CAD screens, just thought you should know, so you don’t end up looking too foolish !!!

      4. Kevin says:

        Thanks for the reply. My I have no distain for anyone. We are entitled to do our jobs and be proud of our professions. Which is why I went off when you and everyone else on this blog failed to understand why the Infinity marketing manager said what he said.

        If you want to be a lemming and judge truth by numbers, that’s your decision. If you aim in life for excellence than becomeing a minority is part of it.

        Now I find it odd that you would call me foolish when you didn’t reply to any of the points I made to justify my position (you were more interested in venting your jealousy over men with bigger watches than you)

        - do you agree that brands are built over time?
        - given the consolidation happening in the car market should Infinity decide now or latter whether they are a luxury or performance car maker?

    2. David Cooper says:

      Here, here!

      1. gpfan says:

        Where? Where?
        It’s “hear, hear”.
        ;)

      2. David Cooper says:

        I am suitably humiliated and embarrassed.

      3. gpfan says:

        I wasn’t trying to be nasty.
        I thought we could have a laugh.
        I type those errors all the time.

    3. J.Danek says:

      they must be using a huge value-multiplier per $ of sponsorship vs. the advertising ‘rate card’. Would really like to see the dataset b/c this is truly an astronomical claim!

      It should be subject to peer review if they’re going to allege it’s measured “scientifically”…

    4. Tim says:

      I agree, something doesn’t smell quite right.
      If I understand the figures correctly, you get $1billion worth of advertising for around $70million of investment. Yet a number of teams cannot find a title sponsor – you would imagine they would be killed in the rush if those figures were true!

    5. James Nye says:

      I can assure you first hand the marketing team at Infinity are amongst the very best in the automotive industry.

      1. Tim says:

        It’s a pity you didn’t use your first hand experience to learn how the company spells it’s name ;-) Sorry, no offence but I couldn’t resist!

    6. Grant H says:

      Agree what a load of tosh

    7. MikeP says:

      Hi Kevin,
      I think we probably both went off on one, I didn’t address your points because you seemed very hostile to us “Design Engineers” and I had the feeling that any response would be mealy a waste of my time.

      As I mentioned previously, I’ve worked in (Technical) Sales and Marketing and I understand your comment about having to sometimes “Sell” technical people. Some of us can be real “Anoraks” but they are also many of us who although “technical” can stand up in front of a couple of thousand people and present. I’ve actually done quite a few presentations at various conferences (both here and in the US) and I think they were generally well received.

      With regard to the sizes of the watches, I’ve worked extensively in the US and it’s a well know observation certainly in the Aerospace industry (my area in expertise), that “the bigger the mouth the bigger the watch”.

      My original point was that the $1 Billion advertising value was basically “hype” as we’ve both worked in this area, I think you’ll acknowledge that it doesn’t take much encouragement for a typical Marketing man to hitch his trailer to exotic forecasts and unrealistic predictions.

      Please don’t think that I’m of the opinion that marketing men are wrong 100% of the time, and I fully understand that they need to show a return on their investment, but equally so the claimed returns needs to be a realistic if ridicule is to be avoided. In this case the claims are, (I feel) unrealistic and this is most certainly why these claims have been the subject of so much ridicule on this and other sites.

      However Kevin I respect your opinion , and yes I agree it does take time to build a brand, but I think you’ll agree that the presentation of this data does leave a lot to be desired.

      So best wishes good luck and maybe we’ll speak again at some later date with regard to another issue.

      Regards,

      Mike

  2. Jon v says:

    Sounds a great figure, I’m still none the wiser to what Infinity do though?

    1. zombie says:

      Its the luxury car division of Nissan-Renault. Like Lexus and Acura, the Infiniti brand was conceived to target the US car market. And since not many give a rats behind about F1 in US, i’ll take the “they got 1 billion $ worth of advertisement” claim with a pinch of salt.

      1. Random 79 says:

        You’re right, but that’s Infiniti.

        The Infinity group is a different kettle of fish entirely…and now he’s all confused again :)

    2. franed says:

      ” I’m still none the wiser to what Infinity do though?”

      I think that makes the point that Infiniti’s exposure is entirely wasted.

      However if Infiniti got a $1Bn exposure then Red Bull got many times that! As did Vodafone, though GSK are not at all prominent on the car.

      1. forestial says:

        If ever a car company needed $1bn exposure it is Infiniti. For a luxury brand they seem to have no ‘cachet’ at all (and poor name recognition if Jon v’s post is any guide).

  3. monkey tennis says:

    Did I just read that right?

    Did a senior figure from Infiniti (a car company that notably lacks clear definition in the minds of almost all European consumers) just ask the rhetorical question “What do we stand for? Are we a performance brand or a premium brand and that takes time”…

    …and then NOT ANSWER THE QUESTION?

    Seriously: Whatever ‘$1billion of advertising value’ really means, this company have paid c.£70million for the last two years to get their name into all the most prominent places in Formula 1 (their name is on so many poles, wins, 2x constructors and 2x drivers trophies). However, me — an avid F1 fan and general petrolhead — still has no more idea than 2 years ago what the Infiniti brand is supposed to represent.

    Am I the only one who missed the memo on this? Outside the US (where Infiniti already had traction as a premium brand) has anyone really learned anything useful about Infiniti road cars or Infiniti as a brand from their two years of spend on F1?

    1. Spyros says:

      Quick tip: Whenever the word ‘value’ is used by marketeers rather than accountants, don’t wind yourself up by what you read.

      It’s like being angry at psychics: sure they speak nonsense, but are people who believe them really worth our pity?

    2. Doohan says:

      “What do we stand for? Are we a performance brand or a premium brand and that takes time”
      Is in reference to what people think of the brand itself.
      People who follow the sport are now familiar with the name, now they need to educate them on what their product actually is.

    3. forestial says:

      Excellent point.

      By the way even in the US I would say their brand recognition is pretty miserable.

    4. Kevin says:

      Please see my comment above. The Infinity head of marketing is absolutely correct. These are changing times with massive rationalisation in the market going on right now. If nissian wants to compete with Toyota, they need a premium brand. However it is the customer who will tell them whether they are a performance or luxury brand. These things take time and once capitalised in the fixed cost of vehicle manufacture or worse in the minds of the consumer these things are difficult to change. Infinity need to listen and be responsive, and continue to experiment before nailing their pants to the mast. But I only work in marketing… what would I know.

      1. LightHorse says:

        sorry for my ignorance but what does Nissan competing with Toyota have to do with Infiniti ?

      2. Kevin says:

        Hi! Infinity is the luxury arm of Nissan. Like Lexus is to Toyota.

      3. Kevin says:

        Infinity is the luxury arm of Nissan. Like Lexus is to Toyota.

      4. LightHorse says:

        @ Kevin.

        thanks. that about shows what their “Billion Dollar” advertising has done for them from my point of view.

        I think I’ve seen exactly 2 Infinti ads on TV here in Australia. I’ve seen a lot more Lexus ads and Lexus on the roads. I even knew that Lexus was the Luxury Toyota brand even though they don’t advertise that fact.

  4. SteveH says:

    What a bunch of BS. If this is the standard calculation I wonder how much advertising Pirelli got with all the signs around the track(s). Must have been well over that billion dollar mark. Interesting also that the company providing the ‘data’ has Infiniti as a client. Further, if Infiniti got a billion dollars of air time, Red Bull did too, as did any other sponsor on the car. Billions and billions.

    1. J.Danek says:

      yeah the value of each “impression” … christ they must be attributing Super Bowl (NFL) ad-rate metrics to every single instance of “Infiniti” appearing on screen to come up w/ $1 billion.

      I hope James will speak to some unbiased sports marketing professionals to test the validity of these claims and ensure their accuracy.

    2. forestial says:

      I agree, silly numbers.

      But since you mention Pirelli, much of what they gained in trackside signs would be negated by endless mouthing of the phrase “these &^((*& degrading Pirelli tires” by everyone from drivers to TV commentators (and blog commenters)

  5. Andy says:

    It sounds like someone has told them this so that they will spend even more, and I wonder who gets a cut of that.

    It’s all hypothetical, what have Infiniti gained as a result of this huge exposure, increased sales for example?

    1. Kirk says:

      I’m not a marketing expert at all, but what I guess is that this $1B could be about the branding value, and as the brand is kind of an active it could be shown as an earning in an informal way, obviously you won’t see anything of that in the accounting books.

  6. Ahmad says:

    What a missed opportunity by Nissan.

    Instead of choosing to sponsor RBR with their Infiniti brand, who make overpriced cars that hardly anyone buys, they should have used the “Nissan” branding, that would have easily improved sales.

    With the kind of money required to buy an Infiniti, anyone would be better off buying a German premium brand or a JLR.

    As for dreamy Marketing figures, what’s the point of $1billion worth of exposure if it doesn’t improve sales.

    1. Hendo says:

      Nissan would be in direct opposition to the Renault (same company) name on the engine cover.

  7. Have been thinking that the “Infinity” brand was a luxury car sold here by either Toyota or Nissan (AKA Datsun) but maybe that’s wrong. Wouldn’t you think, though, that the value of the “exposure” should at some point be translated into a definable (sales) result?

  8. Peter says:

    Interesting that the majority of comments here are by people who have no real idea of positioning strategies and brand alignment yet they feel they know enough to rubbish the claims, results and business model.

    This is brand strategy, not marketing strategy. If you don’t know the difference, don’t criticise.

    Infiniti have made a great investment with Red Bull. It gives them cut through and credibility in markets that would have cost them far more to get traction in through standard advertising models like TV or press.
    Sponsorships don’t need to translate to direct sales. They need to help position the value of a company, so they can charge a premium price for their product and consumers are happy to pay it.

    And, yes, I do know what I am talking about. Brand strategy is what I do.

    1. Micky D says:

      I think we can tell that is what you do, because you seem to be the only one that believes this codswallop!

    2. CarlH says:

      So how long have you worked for Infinity? Does your office have a nice view?

      1. Peter says:

        I wish!

    3. SteveH says:

      Okay Peter, let’s talk brand strategy. What do I know about Infiniti because of their exposure as a name on an F1 car?

      - The F1 car is powered by a Renault engine.
      - The F1 car is made in England.
      - It was driven by a German and an Aussie.
      - It has Pirelli tires.
      - something something Red Bull.

      So the branding strategy I get from this is that Infiniti, which I know is a car because I’m a Yank, sponsors a car that has an engine made by a French company and is designed and built by mostly Englishmen. And that Infiniti has absolutely nothing to do with this except buy advertising space. Yeah, that helps the branding a lot. I want one of those too. The glitter is not rubbing off.

      And by the way, I am aware that Nissan and Renault are associated.

      1. Brad says:

        Steve, as most readers here except Peter don’t seem to understand, Infiniti has made an absolute killing on brand exposure!!! I’m suprised the figure is’nt double that size. They’ve used ONE MEDIUM for 70mil per year and expose their brand to various countries, coupled with the fact that RedBull is the leading F1 team at the mo! It really is quite logical, it does’nt need ppl to know who drives the cars or who makes it, their brand is now recognised the world over! Their positioning could’nt have been any better!

  9. Lindsay says:

    Marketing company inflates benefits of marketing expenditure. More as it comes to hand.

    Repucom is such a “leading global research company” that it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry. You’d think they’d have astroturfed an entry for themselves by now if that claim was true.

    1. James Allen says:

      They do all the data and reporting for all the F1 teams and sponsors!

      1. Lindsay says:

        Thankyou for the clarification James. It seems by cynicism should be turned down a notch sometimes!

  10. Phil Alloy says:

    The connection between the Infiniti brand and F1 here in the US is tenuous at best. TV ads for the car frequently begin ‘When your director of performance is 4-time and current world driving champion Sebastian Vettel….’ [with a flash of a helmeted Seb at the wheel of an Infiniti]. The prob is Seb is virtually unknown over here outside of F1 circles so the USD1B figure is open to question f’sure.

  11. Warren G says:

    Hahaha – I used to be in the marketing field and it’s such a lot of rubbish. So much hot air floating about. Well done to Infinit for spending over $200 mil to achieve zero sales increase, brand loyalty or even proper brand awareness.

    After 3 years and that much money you’d think it should be obvious by now exactly who Infiniti are.It’s not even a sponsorship that makes any sense. At least if it was purely a Renault excersise they could bring out limited edition hot hatches again or something and tie that back to F1.

  12. Andrew says:

    Does Mark Webber get a cut? If it wasn’t for him most races would have been unwatchable this season.

  13. Tim says:

    Were these figures collated by Mansoor Ijaz of Quantum fame?

    1. James Allen says:

      Repucom is the agency all the F1 teams and sponsors use for measurement of sponsorship value, audience data figures etc.

      They’ve been at it for a long time.

      1. Tim says:

        My comment wasn’t meant literally. I was drawing a parallel to the figures quoted for the Infiniti campaign and the gentleman who appears to have duped the Lotus team into believing he was a ‘for real’ investor – for mildly comedic purposes. :-)

      2. Baghetti says:

        James,

        Do you know who ownes the shares of Repucom? It couldn’t be any of the Bernie or FOM companies, could it?

      3. Random 79 says:

        Maybe so, but if you wants facts and statistics you know there’s only one guy you can go to:

        The goferet :)

  14. Michael Carty says:

    Guys, Im an engineer. Without marketing guys, we would not have F1. Weather one like it or not, marketing men have have the money. We need them so need to fill them full of nonsense like getting $1bn worth or advertising for $70m. They love that kinda language. They can justify their existence and do a 30 minute power-point presentation to impress the board. Simple as :(

  15. Oli says:

    This must explain all the Infiniti car I see on the road nowadays…….. oh wait!!!

    Does seem a load of rubbish to be honest. If you ask anyone what raod cars they associate with F1 i’m sure the top answers will be Ferrari & Mercedes.

  16. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

    Renault must surely be a bit cheesed off with this. They supply the Championship winning engine yet the Bull is associated more with Infiniti/Nissan.

    I also have a suggestion for the Global Director of Infinity when he asks ‘are we a performance brand or a premium brand…’

    How about both, release an Infiniti 5S – that can be your fancy performance machine, available in black, silver and white.

    Then, and here’s the cunning bit, release a premium Infiniti 5C, pretend it’s super cheap but don’t sell it for much less than the 5S, but nobody will notice because you can buy the 5C car in lots of hip, cool, funky, wicked, awesome bright colours. Minted ;)

  17. Spyros says:

    About a year ago (maybe a bit less) we were hearing stories about how disappointed Renault was, not to be getting more exposure and praise, from RBR’s success…

    I guess this puts things in perspective… sort of. Since Infinity is part of the group Renault is in, I guess they should have taken their complaint up to their own corporate management.

    More to the point, though, this ‘value’ seems entirely dependent on success, so if the 2014 rules throw a spanner in the works for RBR, can we expect the Infiniti badges to get smaller?

  18. Paul D says:

    “What do we stand for” made me laugh.

    I may be old school, but the only metric you can use to judge advertising / marketing value is ultimately sales.

  19. Joel says:

    Wow. Out of 24, 23 with -ve outlook on the figure with only one supporting.

    For me, the numbers din’t pass the smell test, I’ll leave it there.

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s interesting.

      We’ll do an in-depth piece on Repucom and how the teams and sponsors value F1 activation. Perhaps people will see that there is science to it- and it’s independent!

  20. rasforte says:

    Interesting. I guess I must have seen the Infiniti logo over a thousand times in the last couple of years, but now that I think of it I haven’t got the slightest idea who they are or what they do….

    1. Hendo says:

      But when they start selling them in your country next year, you will instantly recognize the brand and think “that must be a premium performance car coz Seb drives one”

      1. Random 79 says:

        Like a Renault?

  21. michael grig says:

    “the calculated return” is an insult to
    human intelligence and all the opinions here show it.

  22. TP says:

    And yet most teams are fielding cars virtually unbranded…

    I can’t help feel Nissan missed a trick by not naming the RBR engines and linking up with Sony Playstayion and the GT Academy. How much would it have cost to give the Academy winner an F1 test vs the marketing buzz generated??? Very little surely.

    As it happens all I know about Infiniti is they sponsor Red Bull and sell a car named Vettel I have no desire to own.

  23. John S says:

    Infiniti put their logo on a Red Bull so people know the name. Though it should have had more of their cars at the events to showcase what the company does. Now it is talking about the next step as establishing what it does in the consumer’s mind.

    I believe that figure, and hope they put models like the Q50 Eau Rouge in production rather than just saying: “Seb tuned the steering on this so we are totally in sync with F1″

  24. Mr Brooksy says:

    $1 billion in exposure. Find that hard to believe, but I must admit here in Australia (yes we know we area drop in the ocean compared to the rest of the world) but over the past few years Infiniti cars have been popping up everywhere!

    I’m an Aussie petrol head so I notice cars and brands etc, but honestly since infiniti took on the title sponsorship of Red Bull Racing I can almost guarantee I’ll see one on the road every day. Whereas I could count on one hand the number I’ve seen total on one hand before they took on title sponsorship.

    I can has at a guess that’s more to do with Mark Webber being the Aussie racer and the underdog (fitting or own National image) than RBR and Vettels championships.

    It would be in interesting to do some research into Infinitis sales figures hereore the past decade.

    And if there has been a sharp increase in sales here, (not taking anything away from him) but I wonder if Ricciardos promotion was helped any by Infiniti and Australia’s market share? Jay putting it out there. Personally I think RBR chose the right guy to take Webbers place but I am Biased obviously.

    1. Mr Brooksy says:

      Sorry for the spelling and grammar mistakes. It’s hard to get your thoughts down on a phone without messing up.

    2. Random 79 says:

      “m an Aussie petrol head so I notice cars and brands etc, but honestly since infiniti took on the title sponsorship of Red Bull Racing I can almost guarantee I’ll see one on the road every day.”

      That’s normal: It’s called green car syndrome.

      Serious.

  25. Grant H says:

    What a complete load of mumbo jumbo, just because its equivalent to £1 billion air time does not mean its worth that…ask yourself would any sponsor spend 1 billion on advertising through 1 media (f1) – they wouldnt cos only a single type of audience would see it (us f1 fans) and once youve seen it a few times on the car what difference does it make seeing it again..as if they can really say the advertising is 14x more effective than the 70m spent….haha

    1. gpfan says:

      So, when the sports highlights on the
      nightly news show clips of F1 racing,
      do all the non-F1 fans in your family
      go temporarily blind?

  26. Torchwood Five says:

    Is it safe to assume that everyone here knows that there is an Infiniti sponsor (related to Red Bull) and an Infinity sponsor (I think connected to GENII, and therefore Lotus)?

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