A job Wheldon

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Two years ago, Vodafone became not only a sponsor of McLaren’s Formula One team, but its first title sponsor.

The team name was changed to ‘Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’, denoting sponsor, manufacturer and engine maker, in a five-year deal with a five-year extension clause.

According to McLaren, Formula One receives similar viewing figures and attendances to major global events such as the Olympics and the World Cup, which both happen only once every four years. Formula One hits similar viewing numbers in live crowds and television audiences every couple of weeks for nine months a year.

This gives its sponsors immense brand coverage and makes the recourse for television advertising less urgent. Traditional television advertising has become markedly less effective for brands in recent times anyway, as viewers choose programmes on-demand; to record and watch them when they choose, and to fast-forward through the commercial breaks.

According to online research agency YouGov, 57 per cent of Britons now use such technology, either from Sky, Virgin Media or via Freeview.

Vodafone group global marketing director David Wheldon says big live sporting events, where the sponsor’s brand is splashed all over the live action, are the best way for corporations to guarantee effective marketing.

He says: "Television advertising around the world is under real threat because audiences are ‘time-shift’ viewing. It is happening in the UK and the US. People do not ‘time shift’ advertising. The things that are left that can be used as advertising platforms are big live sporting events."

In total, 18 Formula One races take place each season, with each attended by around 100,000 people, broadcast to 140 countries and watched by 121 million people. Race coverage extends to 64 million magazines and newspapers worldwide and the official Formula One website receives more than 275 million hits per season.

Full story in Mobile News issue 416 (June 16, 2008)

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