JULY 14, 2003
Williams and Budweiser...
Williams is the team in the news at the moment and not only on the race tracks. The organization has been pulling in sponsorship at a time when all the other major F1 teams have failed to do so, and has already this year landed a major deal with GlaxoSmithKline (to promote its NiQuitin brand), in addition to deals with Western Union and Xilinx. This week it is expected that Williams's acquisitions team will add Budweiser to the team's portfolio, a major coup for the Grove team as the American brewer came very close to a big deal with Ferrari. Perhaps the most impressive thing is that Williams managed to land the deal despite the agreement it has with BMW for the car to remain blue and white. This means that Budweiser has had to drop its usual red livery.
The deal with Williams seems to highlight the fact that performance in F1 will be rewarded, and that those who produce the fastest car will land the big sponsorships. Williams has proved that there are plenty of sponsors out there who are not involved in the sport and could benefit from F1. These are lessons which small teams struggling for money would do well to learn.
There is a logic in redistributing the income in the sport and giving the smaller teams a helping hand to survive but the fundamental truth in F1 is that those who perform get paid and those who do not go out of business.
There are few beer sponsorships in Formula 1 largely because of an organization called The Portman Group, which was set up in 1989 by the leading drinks producers in the UK, to encourage responsible marketing of alcohol products. This self-regulatory body has an agreement not to sponsor racing cars and includes in its membership Bacardi-Martini, Coors Brewers UK, Diageo Great Britain, HP Bulmer, Interbrew UK, Pernod Ricard UK and Scottish and Newcastle. Budweiser is not a signatory to that agreement.
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