The gamble in sponsorship. McLaren and Santander.

6 10 2008

Sponsorship is a gamble sometimes. Leveraging your sponsorship with equally intelligent marketing strategies is a sure-fire way to keep that sponsorship from sinking below the profile you’ve paid for. In auto racing, nothing is more frustrating than when the car you’ve paid to be seen on finishes outside the top ranks, off the TV broadcast or worse… as the ball of flaming wreckage.

Every racing sponsorship requires activation – be it through events attended by the driver, marketing collateral that carries the equity you’ve bought with that sponsorship or any other piece of mass communication that ties your audience to your sponsorship property.

In the high-profile, multi-million dollar sponsorship affairs of McLaren F1 and Banco Santander, the question isn’t “will this sponsorship pay off?” but “can this sponsorship extend and pay off bigger?” It goes without saying that Lewis Hamilton is doing (and will continue to do) amazing things in his F1 career. A 2008 World Driving Championship seems close as does a legitimate shot at a 2009 redux. Nevertheless, the scarlet fever among Formula One fans is strong. Santader is currently thinking they would do well to take their sponsorship to Ferrari, especially if countryman Fernando Alonso became part of that equation. A Spanish bank, nicely aligned with a Spanish driver (again) and a winning form to boot.

All speculation of course, but denying Championship realities, leveraged marketing strategies and a young Briton with everything still in his future, would be a sponsorship blunder by Santander.

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