EE and Vodafone clash over 4G branding on McLaren cars


Vodafone accused rival of trying to pull both McLaren from Sundays British Grand Prix at  Silverstone in a row over 4G branding down the side of each vehicle.  EE says the operator’s claims are untrue. 

EE tried to prevent the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team from racing in yesterday’s (June 30) F1 British Grand Prix, according to Vodafone.

Vodafone, who have been the team sponsor of McLaren since 2007 as part of a £50m a season deal, claims EE asked for drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez’s cars to be ‘garaged’ ahead of the race on Friday evening, and remove the ‘Ultrafast 4G’ wording down the side of each car.

EE, who is currently the only UK operator to offer a 4G /LTE  service, told Mobile News it “absolutely” did not request the cars to be pulled from the race, but suggested the operator should not be promoting a service it is yet to launch and remove the wording.

Vodafone refused, claiming it was using the car to build further awareness of its forthcoming 4G services – expected to launch this month.

A Vodafone statement read:  “This is sponsorship, not advertising. The clue is in the team’s name: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. We’re using the car to build further awareness of our forthcoming ultrafast 4G service. It’s a ‘static promotion’, albeit on a car that can travel at over 200 mph.

“Consumers know Vodafone’s ultrafast 4G is coming. We’ve said very publicly it will be here by the late summer. Even if someone seeing the car wasn’t aware of that, there is no ‘call to action’ on it.”

EE responded: “We simply asked why advertise a product that you don’t have ?  When it comes to 4G mobile networks, Vodafone UK isn’t even on the grid. ”





  1. They’re just compounding the problem. They need to tread carefully. Perhaps they’re starting to tyre of Vodafone’s advertising.

  2. Vodafone may not be on the grid. But ask anyone in the channel who has to deal with EE and they’ll tell you the whole EE experience is a car crash. I seem to recall EE used to be an F1 team backer when Orange sponsored the doomed TWR Arrows team. In which case they would know sponsors don’t actually have the power to dictate team events and strategies. Still, it would have been amusing to see the EE brand be henceforth known as “the bastards who tried to stop the British Gran Prix”. Good work chaps.