Vodafone and Ferrari

OUR sources at Vodafone suggest that there will soon be an announcement that the world's largest mobile telephone operator will become a Ferrari sponsor next year.

Vodafone is currently supporting the Benetton Renault Sport team but that deal dates back several years to when the D2 company was supporting Alexander Wurz. When D2 was taken over by Vodafone it was decided to rebrand the sponsorship with Benetton. But now the firm is moving onward and upward.

The current Benetton deal includes elements of the front wings and the rear wing endplates, plus a small sticker on the side of the Benetton's nose. With Ferrari it is expected that the Vodafone sponsorship will be rather neater. The company's red and white "swirl" logo will fit in nicely with the Ferrari color scheme but it remains to be seen where on the cars it will appear. The front wing is an obvious choice as this is the current location of Ferrari's sponsorship with Telecom Italia's TIM mobile phone brand, a Vodafone rival. However Vodafone may be more ambitious than that and may have invested in buying space on the sidepods as well. At the moment the Ferrari pods feature Shell (which is unlikely to move), tictac and FedEx. There is also potential for sponsorship on the barge boards which are currently red.

Vodafone is one of the most aggressive of the mobile phone companies and in recent years under chief executive Chris Gent has expanded dramatically with the acquisition of the AirTouch company and the hostile takeover of the Mannesmann engineering empire, which brought the company the D2 and Orange mobile phones brands. Vodafone was forced to sell Orange by the European competition authorities. More recently Gent has bought into Japan Telecom and so needs to support his international growth with a stronger global marketing policy.

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