APRIL 27, 2007

F1 looks for glitter at Monaco

Formula 1 has long been a refuge for the suddenly rich and famous, and the latest suggestions coming out of Germany is that Austrian hotelier Gunther Aloys may be on the verge of signing a sponsorship deal with the Spyker team, to promote his Rich Prosecco drink. Aloys is attractive to Spyker because he would arrive at Monaco with Paris Hilton, the famous for being famous heiress, who acts as the ambassador for the drink. This would guarantee a vast amount of publicity for the team, for the drink and for Ms Hilton and while Formula 1 might be looking for more A-List celebrities, it will make do with whatever is available.

Aloys started out in the hotel business, developing a hotel in the ski resort of Ischgl in the Austrian Alps. At the time the place had little to offer but in 1995 Aloys came up with the idea of using a free concert as a marketing tool and hired Elton John. He was followed by Tina Turner, Sting and Bon Jovi and turned Ischgl into a party town. More recently he decided to try to emulate the success of Red Bull and went to Italy to find a suitable drink. In the Treviso area he found Prosecco, a fizzy white wine which he reckoned would do the job and last year launched the drink called Rich Prosecco in a suitably understated gold can and took on Paris Hilton as the ambassador for the drink. His aim, as with the town of Ischgl, was to attract the attention of the carefree members of what marketing people call Generation Y (which is roughly people born between 1984 and 1994, who are now coming into money as they settle into employment. The success of Rich Prosecco has been impressive with around a million cans sold last summer in Germany and Austria and there are now plans for a major expansion. At around $1.50 per can Aloys is making sensible money, although not really enough to consider F1 sponsorships.

Aloys has confirmed that he is in talks with Spyker's Michiel Mol and Victor Muller about a promotion at Monaco and has even mentioned the possibility of longer term deals.

The F1 teams have been trying for some years to link activities at Monaco with glamorous figures from the film world and other celebrities. This year's Cannes Film Festival is on at the same time as the Grand Prix and it is anticipated that Red Bull Racing will almost certainly be involved with the latest Warner Bros movie "Ocean's 13", which will be a sequel of "Ocean's 11" and "Ocean's 12". The film features George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Ellen Barkin and Al Pacino and is about a casino heist.

Others likely to appear at Monaco are Naomi Campbell and Eva Herzigova, who are appearing in a film called "Go-Go Tales", which will also be launched at Cannes.