Money. It makes the world go around according to Liza Minelli and Joel Grey, and it has certainly made shipping Formula One around the world, to homes and circuits, a slick affair. But to get the cheque signed a sweetner must be offered, indeed the land of sponsorship is one laden with pitfalls for Bernie Ecclestone and the sport he beams around the world. Pay enough and you can have put your company name plastered around the circuit, down the pitlane or across a car. Although if you really push the boat out you can get a Formula One driver to do your bidding.
Yes, promoting a variety of products is an integral part of being of being a Formula One driver, moreso now than ever before. Whereas some promotional activities hold a certain gravitas, others can threaten to tug at sympathetic heart strings, or at least force you to file it under ‘shit you have to do to be a Formula One driver’. And the latter is where the laughs are to be found. Naturally.
Cars: Translating Horsepower
Obvious choice, so blindingly obvious that it should be impossible to get this wrong. While there have been some great examples, there have been some equally questionable ones that make you wonder if the advertisers were aware of what they were doing. Or who they had at their disposal. And it’s not just cars, but those car related extras too. But to ease you in, these aren’t all bad…
If you need any help getting the best out of your car, then looking to comedians isn’t perhaps the best idea, and if you need a quick refuel then you can load up on carbs with Walker and Hill, or grab a coffee with Raikkonen.
Watches: Time is of the essence
Timepieces are an integral part of Formula One, they are a go to sponsor for all teams, time is the essence of the sport of course. But it easy to promote a watch right, stick it on the right wrist and you’re good to go. Yes, but all sportsmen aren’t born to be natural David Gandy’s when they hit the big time, and with their talent concentrated internally, Derek Zoolander has become their go to guy for posing tips. Focus guys, channel that Blue Steel stare. Unless you’re a Schumacher…
It’s not all about print ads though, Lewis Hamilton went wheel to wheel with Steve McQueen to sell you a Monaco.
Beauty: Head & Shoulders, knees and toes
It seems an odd angle for a company to go for, you can only imagine the concept meeting. A room full of cool executive types going through a list of possiblities, scrolling the column inches for the ideal spokesperson, someone who can speak for the brand in a time when image is currency.
“We need a fresh face for our new shampoo. We need someone dynamic, athletic, successful. With hair.”
“Footballer, athlete, popstar?”
“Done, done, done.”
Several hours later…
“Bloody hell I don’t know, a Formula One driver?”
Of course, the natural choice to promote a product destined for the head is someone who spends his time wedging it inside a helmet. Smooth move.
But this is not a new phenomenon, Sir Stirling Moss the Famous British Racing Champion was an adovate for ‘Colgate Instant Shave’, how instant I can not comment on. However you could purchase it for 69¢ and it was a ‘great shave buy for a tough-beard guy’.
Fernando Alonso: Señor Promotor
As you can see from the link below, it is clear that the double world champion is not afraid to say yes to anything. Join Ferrari, yes! Enjoy the fruit of team orders, yes! Cultivate facial hair, yes! Although he should be praised for being so commited to the cause he even does it during therapy sessions, when he’d asleep, during trips to the dentist, being badly dubbed, in the middle of dance lessons and while taming horses. You know, typical day to day activities for Mr Alonso.
WTF: Your guess is as good as mine
Then there are some deals drivers make that you have to think bypassed the common sense portion of their brain, or was pitched to them in such a way it resembled nothing of the final outcome, or they were paid a lot. Either way there have been some downright questionable decisions made.
And I’m sure you know more!