Formula 1 misses a chance

NASCAR has been opposed to liquor sponsorship throughout its history (ironic when one considers that the first NASCAR racers were almost all moonshiners who raced one another carrying illegal hooch during the Prohibition years in the United States) but it seems that now anything goes. There had been a voluntary ban on hard liquor advertising on US television and radio networks which dated back to 1936 but that was broken last year by the Seagram company in an effort to reverse the 20-year downward trend of the sales of spirits in North America. Despite the collapse of the voluntary ban he four major US television channels: ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox have all decided to continue their own policies of banning liquor advertising and NASCAR, keen not to upset the TV companies, refused to agree to a sponsorship deal earlier this year when team owner Jack Roush tried to do a deal with British spirit firm Diageo.

The company went off to have a look at Formula 1 and talked with several teams, notably BAR and McLaren but in the end Roush won the day and Diageo will run a car in the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup in the colours of Crown Royal. The company had previously been involved with Roush by way of an associate sponsorship deal with its flavoured malt beverage Smirnoff Ice.

Diageo says it will use the new sponsorship to continue to educate consumers about the importance of responsible drinking.

"Our association with this world class racing team will allow us to connect with millions of adult consumers, who are devoted NASCAR fans, and

remind them about the importance of responsible drinking," said Mark Waller, Executive Vice President of Diageo. "A multi-million dollar marketing budget supporting this sponsorship will include dedicated social responsibility messaging."

A chance missed for F1?

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