Boost for McLaren as Vodafone extends title sponsorship
Boost for McLaren as Vodafone extends title sponsorship
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Oct 2010   |  7:52 am GMT  |  85 comments

McLaren announced today that its title sponsorship deal with Vodafone has been extended to the end of the 2013 season.

It has been a successful relationship, crowned by Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 world championship. And as the statement from the team says, it shows “what a formidable global marketing tool the sport of Formula 1 remains.” I’m told that Ron Dennis was central to the renegotiation of the deal along with McLaren commercial director Ekrem Sami.

What a sponsor wants to see (Photo: Darren Heath)

McLaren is one of the better funded teams in the F1 pitlane and the Vodafone deal is one of the largest team sponsorships. As a global brand the ways in which Vodafone can leverage F1 in markets around the world is extensive. The company has become increasingly adventurous in the way it uses F1 in its marketing.

Vodafone has encouraged the public to “Make the most of Now” and “Chase the Dream” in mainstream campaigns which have also helped to spread awareness of F1, McLaren and Lewis Hamilton in particular.

As part of the deal, Vodafone will also take responsibility for all of McLaren’s communications services at races and in every day business. A key objective for Vodafone will be to use the McLaren relationship to bring its customers closer to the passion of F1.

Prior to joining McLaren in 2007, Vodafone had a hugely successful partnership with Ferrari during the Schumacher years, but moved on as the team’s title sponsorship deal with Marlboro didn’t give Vodafone scope for expansion.

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

And Vodafone must be happy after FP1 – wasn’t Lewis just superb today?!

Least time on track and he goes out sets such quickest lap.

I think it was Hamilton’s most impressive lap of the season.


Ah as we all suspected!

“MW: Well, obviously Seb has had a good run in qualifying. He has had a few pole positions and I have had some poles as well. As you say the car is pretty quick on Saturday afternoon. We have adjustable front ride height suspension which has been running since the start of the year and that works well and then we put the car back up for Sunday. Lots of things have been good for us and we try to do the same job on Saturday.

SV: As Mark said we have this big lever for the ride height. I think that is the secret for Saturday.”


Are there any brands or companies that people are surprised aren’t involved in F1?

I’ve always wondered where the two cola companies are.


Very good point indeed. I’m really curious to know the answer to that.


Vodafone red and marlboro red are not ferrari red. In Monaco in 2007 I believe, Ferrari ran their colours in their tradtional rosso corsa red and it is much darker then then what we see of the Ferrari F10.

You can see the different if you have Gran Turismo 5 prologue.


Correct. There was uproar about it when they changed. It’s much more orange in colour than the ferraris used to be.

I loved the old Ferrari red. The new one is a little too “dukes of hazard” for my liking.

I think they changed it around the time Michael joined from memory.


James, what is the reason that the back of the Mclaren rear wing has been blank all year? Does a former sponsor (Satander?) own the space or something? Would have thought Vodaphone would want there logo’s there, or Mclaren would want to sell the space to someone else.


Vodafone a global brand? O.K. I’ve been a dedicated F1 follower since the 1960s and am well familiar with the Vodafone name because I’ve seen it written on the cars for years, but I still have no idea what this company does. Their reach certainly isn’t into North America so it’s a bit of a stretch to call that reach ‘global’. What do these guys do?


Robert in San Diego

I am sure you have heard of Verizon, they are related.


World’s largest mobile telecommunications company measured by revenue. At least according to wikipedia.


You’re probably too much into F1. There is a whole world outside F1 waiting for you to discover and we are in a new Millinium if you missed that bit.


I’m curious about how this piece of news was announced: did McLaren hold a press conference in Korea or it was just in the form of a press release?

By the way, James, what are your thoughts on the Korea track … and its surroundings?


So Mclaren get to keep some red paint on their car! Not for the 1st time eh 😉


After FERRARI technology they are going for FERRARI sponsors and colors. Is copying an opponent colors banned by the FIA

ps : no answer is needed



In case you hadn’t noticed, the article was about McLaren not your favourite team!

And F1 is more than just one team that chooses to race in the colour red!

Tom Haythornthwaite

How do Philip Morris benefit from sponsoring Ferrari without logos?


Also because the team name isn’t just ‘Ferrari’. Even though there isn’t any logo’s on the car, the team is still officially called “Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro”.


but nobody calls the team that way like nobody says Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. That’s there for official press releases which very few read.


I’ve got few suppositions but I’m far from sure that any is true :

– some of the key members of Philip Morris are fond of F1 or FERRARI. They wanna attend races with the right accomodations

– the fact that you ask this question is may be the reason. It’s shoking to think that they’re paying the biggest bill of any sponsor out there to have 0 sq inches of stickers on the car. The few people who hear about that will be marked by it the way you are and I am. And for these people it has a bigger impact than a given sticker.

– they don’t know what to do with all that money

– they are lunatics

– someone within FERRARI made them a proposition they can’t refuse (if you see what I mean !)

– a mixture of the reasons above.

Unless James ALLEN has a clear answer or we have a 00x among the blog readers who can come up with something, that’s all I got.


Because many people associate the blank area on the car and barcodes on the driver’s gear as being Marlboro – because they have sponsored Ferrari for so long so it’s just second nature to think of them.


The Vodafone rocket red looks superb with the polished chrome of the McLaren.

And great news for McLaren to maintain one of its key sponsors. This will help the team to maintain its strong position in the top ranks of F1 for years to come.


Somehow I preferred the black and silver from the days they were sponsored by West. Fits better with McLaren’s sober image rather than a loud colour like red.

Of course, if Ron is serious about making McLaren a “British Ferrari”, he should go back to basics and paint the cars orange. Sadly Vodafone will never allow a rival telecom company’s colours on the cars.


Why is McLaren keeping German silver color now that they’re not tied partners with Mercedes ?


So that Mercedes GP can’t use this to their advantage.


I wonder if that’s why the Mercedes team are using a matt silver?

Not sure if the matt finish has always been the Mercedes colour but it’s quite different from the polished chrome of the McLaren’s. Apart from the original McLaren orange, it’s defintely their best livery.


They are still using Merc engines eh?


Interesting that Mclaren are now releasing control of the communications services at races and in every day business but I should imagine that the contract will state that Vodafone has to do exactly what McLaren want.

I should also imagine Vodafone will manage to make money from bringing it’s customers closer to 2.6 billion F1 viewers – plus this could easily be a springboard for other sports –

At times sponsorship seems cheap.


‘2.6 billion F1 viewers’

who are you trying to kid?


There’s only about 300,000 of us in Oz for every race (out of 22 millions).


Tom, sorry the figure was so low !!! –

– the cumulative television audience was calculated to be 54 billion for the 2001 season, broadcast to two hundred countries.


If operating budgets are coming down does this extra sponsorship money go back into R&D and modernizing equipment or are the teams also restricted on their capital expenditure?

Did all the teams sign up to the Resource Restriction Agreement or is this currently being policed under a gentleman’s agreement?


hair implants for ron dennis I guess


It makes sense for Vodafone to continue the deal now Mclaren Jenson Button who is very media friendly to promote their product.

Two World Champions in one team that should be challaging for WDC’s for the forseeable future…..a sponsors dream!


Am I right in thinking Williams’ sponsorship deals with RBS, Air Asia and Phillips are all due to expire soon?


That is correct


Any idea on possible replacements?


I would like to see Williams back with a title before frank leaves the team. It would be great.

I think that they were a bit arrogant the way they treated drivers and staff. They used to get rid of world champions and more importantly they lost Adrian Newey their biggest mistake since they joined the sport. I wonder sometimes if Frank and Patrick have nightmares thinking about Newey’s departure.

Even after that, they didn’t trust drivers. They always seemed unsatisfied with Mark Webber and he is proving them wrong.

One last point : why does williams seem to jump to any new coming partener in F1. When Michelin joined they jumped immediately in the 1st year without garantees and when Michelin annonced their departure they rejoined Bridgestone immediately eventhough Michelin was the better choice then.

And now, they are going the Cosworth route. Eventhough Williams wasn’t vocal there have been certain issues with the engine at the start of the year. Why do they have to deal with these teething issues all the time. Look at Lotus for example they switched to RENAULT engine RedBull gearbox having the obligation in the process to compensante COSWORTH. That seems logical and effective.

Why Williams keeps taking the same pointless route. They have to try something else once. Come on FRANK !


James, please fix the spelling mistake… Negotiation, not negociation!

The Kitchen Cynic

I guess they can afford it after the taxman let them off a £6 billion bill for unpaid tax recently…


@ Jo torrent (comment no 3) – doesn’t Maclaren’s brand image fit better with Vodafone than that of Ferrari – the ultra mordern versus the more traditional?

James, did vodafone jump ship as the association with a cigarette brand may have been likely to be counterproductive?

Also, could you at some stage do a round up of who the major sponsors are behind each team (both ‘visible’ and ‘invisible’ ie. through drivers and team owners). It’s clear that F1 has moved away from the Tobacco giants (with the exception of Marlboro?), but who has come to fill in these ‘advertising’ (!!!)spaces?


I seem to remember something about the Marlboro – Ferrari long term agreement having somethin to do with the fact that Vodafone left Ferrari. Probably something related with the lack of a good space to put their logo on the car, and the bad image linked with the tobacco brand as well.

Very interesting point in the third paragraph. My vote for an article on this topic, James. 😉


What’s more modern in McLaren besides Ron Dennis hair cut ?


Actually Vodafone is the only F1 team sponsor whose services or products I have ever deliberately bought just because they sponsored my favourite driver’s team. When Kovalainen was driving for McLaren, I always chose Vodafone as the mobile phone operator whenever I was abroad (Vodafone is not present in my country). Now I always choose some other operator 🙂


Yes, same here.

I tend to choose those companies that support my sport if service delivery and price is similar between two brands.

I am on Vodafone now but maybe tempted to switch from their below par service.


I have bought a couple of Ferraris for my children just because Alonso is driving for them.

Before doing it, I sold both Clio’s…


are you serious !!!!!!!!!!!!!


I think they maybe…….!


yeah!! are you serious??? a Kovalainen fan????


Lol. Brilliant comment


James, How much is this deal?


Not sure, must be circa £50 million per year


Isn’t it more than the Williams’ budget for a year?


NIce. It would be nicer if they offered to pay their £6BN tax bill though, rather than begging George Osborn to let them off.


Great news for McLaren. When was the deal due to expire?


When you can’t get FERRARI you grab whatever remains !


Are you aware there are other teams in the grid Jo ?

I seem to recall Ferrari pre Schumacher being in the doldrums, despite some excellent drivers. Prost, mansell, alesi, Berger.


Does it matter to Vodafone? They weren’t sponsoring any F1 teams before 2002.


Ferrari in the pre Schummie days: only tean to be taking part every year from the 1st on Formula 1; 8 times WCC and 9 WDC.

mmm… I know that I have to improve my English, but this doesn’t seem exactly “to be in the doldrums”, at least according with my Oxford Learner’s Dictionary translation.


@Andy C – now it’s crystal-clear. I misundestood your point. Obviously, during the second half of the 1980s and the 1990s Ferrari went throug a long period in the wilderness. 🙂


Galapago, you maybe misunderstood my point. I was not saying they had never won anything. Or maybe I didn’t put it down right.

I was referring to a longish period of no success. I know what they have achieved and won 🙂


McLaren Poached Vodafone from Ferrari on back of signing Alonso in Winter 2005. McLaren even left the current Vodafone space on their car livery blank for entire 2006 season.

Ekrem Sami has been a smooth operator when it comes to poaching sponsors of rival teams.

Having recently read Jo Ramirez’s autobiography, one thing for sure McLaren History is littered with examples where “Ronspeak” has driven people including Sponsors away from McLaren, So I am not sure including Ron is Vodafone signing discussions was actually detrimental to the spirit of enticing the sponsor.


Are you saying that, by blank, you do not remember seeing Emirates on the wings (in red) and Johnny Walker (in black)? I’m sure they’ll be pleased 🙂


They LEFT ferrari.


Marlboro may have “left” Ferrari, but they are still heavily associated with them.

I was in Tunisia’s duty free less than a week ago, when I spotted plenty of promotional material by Marlboro with images and text linking them to Ferrari.

I’m sure this isn’t free!


They haven’t left. They are still title sponsor


Yep, they moved to McLaren in 2007, same time as Alonso.

Anyway, don’t think that the Scuderia will never find any problem to find deep-pocket sponsors.


you’re wrong mate. They wanted a bigger contract, Ferrari had a bigger sponser. Besides Vodafone’s Red match FERRARI perfectly.

Mclaren was only a back up.


Obviously no point staying after Schumacher left…


Now matter how you try to spin it with Ferrari, it’s great news for McLAREN!


Far more ethical than promoting cancer sticks on a red car!


Marlboro didn’t sponsor McLaren before, or did they ! Besides, there’s an alcohol sticker on Lewis and Jenson helmets. Everybody knows how good for health is alcohol.

Finally, where do you see tobacco stickers on FERRARIs cars. I haven’t seen any in the last couple years.

FERRARI is the only team to whom a sponsor pays money without being put on the car. That tells all you have to know about the legend they are.


Its quite funny to think how things have changed recently. When I used to work for one of the Cigarette makes the Prodrive-Subaru rally team had the logo of one of the leading brands of the firm even when they had withdrawn the sponsorship. So we had a case of free sponsorship and now we have a case of someone paying but no branding


Btw, Santander is paying money to McLaren and they are NOT being put in the car…


It took a concerted campaign to shame Ferrari into doing the right thing and drop the subliminal advertising on their car, using a barcode of a favourite cigarette brand. That was as recently as this year I believe and not a few years ago as you claim!


Brilliant!! Can’t agree more. 😀


“The company has become increasingly adventurous in the way it uses F1 in its marketing.”

I recall a flying/suspended Lewis Hamilton in a theatre in Istanbul a couple of years ago. 🙂

On a more serious note, it has been a while that Vodafone has used F1 in its marketing here in Australia.


I remember prior to the Melbourne GP that Vodaphone did a cross promotion with the V8 Supercars and McLaren, they had Whincup in Button’s McLaren, and Button in Whincup’s V8. It was at least mentioned by most of the mainstream press too (Whincup impressed McLaren with his speed IIRC).


Why use F1 when you have TeamVodafone in the V8 Supercars? The category has a far-reaching appeal in the domestic market, something that F1 can only deam in Oz. I would also assume that showing the races live on terrestrial television would also assist there – something that didn’t happen when I was living there.


We do get the races (and qualifying) broadcast live on free to air tv in Oz. I imagine the market for it will be larger if Mark can take out the WDC this year too.


This is obviously great news for McLaren. Vodafone together with Red Bull and possibly Santander are probably the most recognisable brands in F1 today.

James, of greater interest what is likely to happen with McLaren’s engine arrangements for that year onwards now that a year has nearly passed since the change in Mercedes approach to F1?


I think Ron Dennis’s hope and long term vision is that McLaren also build the engine as well as the chassis and become the British Ferreri


If they do stop using Mercedes engines and use their own and are still sponsored by Vodafone then I wonder what their livery will be, because at the moment it is silver (Mercedes) and red (Vodaphone), so they could literlly become the British Ferrari,


They only had white and red livery because they were sponsored by Marlboro. Mclaren’s proper livery is orange.


They could return to their classic white and red colour scheme!

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