Editor's Viewpoint - Martini and Formula One - A Match Made in... Bahrain?
Bacardi unveiled its Martini tie-up with Formula One yesterday
Yesterday morning, I headed into London to attend an event that had been shrouded in secrecy. All I knew was that it concerned Bacardi's Martini brand and - according to the agency - would be “very, very cool”.
They turned out to be right. Along with about 80 other journalists, I was present at the announcement of Martini's headline sponsorship of the Williams Formula One racing team, which coincided with the unveiling of the 2014 season FW36 F1 car.
It was very, very cool.
It was also no expense spared. Cars had been laid on to take each of us to the event, which was co-hosted by former supermodel and latter-day auto fan Jodie Kidd.
Brand Martini has a long history with motor sport that dates back to 1968. The brand is also held in fond esteem by fans of motor racing: When I told my 70-something-year-old father what I'd witnessed, he sounded genuinely thrilled to hear of the arrival of the Williams Martini Racing team.
Details behind the tie-up were understandably scant (Bacardi being a privately-held company): The deal is “multi-year” and no financial amounts were disclosed. One thing we can be sure of: It sure as hell won't be cheap for Bacardi.
Back in 2005, when Diageo started its non-lead sponsorship of the McLaren Mercedes F1 team with Johnnie Walker, the company said it would spend between GBP10m and GBP15m per year on the tie-up and supporting marketing.
Bacardi and the Martini team will be spending far north of that. Mobile telecoms company Vodafone, until last year the head sponsor of McLaren, is one of F1's biggest spenders, forking out around US$75m.
As Formula One looks to travel further afield, focusing on emerging markets and their burgeoning middle class, the figures seem likely to grow ever more lucrative.
What surprises me is that a brand so entrenched in the developed markets as Martini should want to get as involved in F1 as to be headline sponsor. F1 has always been a circus, but its audience has changed massively since the 1960s and 1970s.
Is Martini set to undergo a renaissance in China? In Malaysia? In Singapore? In Bahrain?
Bacardi will certainly hope so.
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