Rolex and Pirelli have been the trackside advertising folks for a while now in Formula 1 but that last “big” sponsorship deal I can recall was a deal with LG electronics. It was odd to see a F1 logo on their boxes and packaging inside a Wal Mart on a stack of 42” LCD display but there you go.
Today’s announcement that Heineken will become the trackside sponsor in a five-year deal for $150m is certainly good news for F1 and it will happen as soon as the Canadian Grand Prix in June. Where you would traditionally see Rolex or Pirelli banners, you will now see Heineken banners.
The beer company is also said to be interested in putting branding on a team’s cars and the teams will have to pitch the beer giant with the most compelling presentation receiving Heineken’s sponsor dollars.
When tobacco money left the sport, there was a void and many felt it would be filled by tech companies because, as we all know, F1 is the pinnacle of technology innovation in motorsport but guess what? Apple, Google, Facebook, TI, Dell, IBM, HP, Lenovo or Yahoo did not engage the sport in a big way. Some had a logo here or there but no title sponsorship or series sponsorship. To be honest, it was a bit disappointing to see such an indifference from the tech companies who are marketing juggernauts these days.
This leaves companies that have logical involvement like Pirelli and Mobile 1 and I applaud their interest in the sport for sure. It also left open the alcohol industry with Johnny Walker and now Heineken. If the series can’t have tobacco money, then perhaps alcohol would make sense? Apparently it does to Heineken and I say welcome aboard folks.
I may not look as good as Tom Hiddleston when I drink it and clearly I don’t pull off the swarthy good looks of Benicio Del Toro while I partake or a cold Heineken but clearly the beer giant that is still ran by the founder’s great-granddaughter and who still make beer with three ingredients—water, barley and hops—is a unique and significant partner for F1 and good news for teams as well as the commercial rights holder. I wonder if JMI was involved in this deal?
There is also the question of the craft brewer and the impact these small, dedicated breweries have had on mega-brewers such as Anheuser Busch and Heineken with regards to their marketing and social media outreach. These small, closely held corporations of craft brewers sell the concept of premium ingredients uniquely combined to create an uncompromising blend and terrific product and they do so using all the social media tools available.
I have never visited the Heineken brewery but I happen to live next door to Anheuser Busch and they have been a client of mine for some time. I’ve seen how they make beer and to be honest, the brewmaster at AB has no less passion or commitment to the craft than the bearded, hipsters at New Belgium brewery in Boulder Colorado (yes, I’ve been there too…super nice folks and very passionate about their beer).
This is all good news for a sport that the same social media is claiming as deceased but with partners like Heineken involved, it seems F1 is ready to go on the cart.