A view from the marketing world

Marketing Week in London has looked at the effects of the Mosley Scandal on Formula 1, drawing a parallel between Mosley and Hillary Clinton.

"Both have been driven by extraordinary, some would say deluded, belief in their own destinies into a tenacious promotion of self-interest at the expense of the organisations which have made them what they are. Arguably the strategy has paid off better for Max than Hillary. She is now unlikely to attain supreme power, though she may have scuppered the Democratic Party’s chances of securing the presidency in the process. Max has played his cards more astutely. Having successfully calculated the odds against him, he has brassed out the hullabaloo over his sex scandal and been able to thrust two fingers at his many critics. A confidence vote of 103 to 55, with paltry abstentions, at the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile is all the mandate he needs to retain supreme power in the global motor sports realm until October 2009."

The magazine goes on to say that "this is a still unfolding story with the potential for disaster much worse than the sleazy episode at its core. The sleaze has merely served to shed an unflattering light on the organisation behind F1 that, for all the stellar fame surrounding it and billions of pounds lavished upon it, is bloated, archaic, managerially incompetent and ethically dubious. If you’re a sponsor of F1, or a constructor, those associations ought to be a wee bit troubling for your own brand image. But the fact is, moaning about it is not nearly enough. Mercedes Benz, BMW, Toyota and Honda (for example) have been quite vocal in their criticisms. Others, like Vodafone, have been active behind the scenes. Powerful individuals, such as ex-Formula 1 champions Sir Jackie Stewart and Jody Scheckter, FI commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, Crown Prince Sheik Salma Al Khalifa of Bahrain and Prince Albert of Monaco (where Mosley lives), have in their various ways made it clear that Mosley should do the decent thing by F1 and fall on his sword. To no avail. None of these people, or organisations – unlike certain caravan associations – has a vote at the archaically-constituted FIA which is formally responsible for Mosley’s fate as global head of motor sport."

The magazine says that the issue "is not so much whether Mosley is truly a Nazi sympathiser but whether Formula 1 can afford to be complacent about having someone so politically incorrect as its prime representative. Racism is an issue for F1, as the recent taunts aimed at Lewis Hamilton at a pre-season test demonstrated. Toyota, which has not so far seen much for the $500m it has invested in F1, was pretty quick to tie the two things together: it said it did not approve of behaviour damaging to F1’s image, "in particular any behaviour which could be understood to be racist or anti-Semitic." Here is the FIA’s Achilles heel, and one Jewish and Muslim lobby groups would do well to puncture. By applying unrelenting ‘guilt by association’ pressure on the biggest brands associated with F1, they will finally get them to act. What actually happens next is anyone’s guess, but this much is certain: the longer Mosley stays, the more destabilising it will be for F1 and all who work for and with it. Fund-raising will be an increasing problem."

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