Brand exposure can blow up in your face

2 July 2013
Global brands like to be associated with Formula 1. From the Champagne that gets sprayed on the podium, to the rear wings on the cars, right down to the caps thrust onto drivers heads post-race before they’ve had a chance to catch their breath, pretty much everything is either sponsored or part of a commercial deal. For the companies that don’t have a direct link to the automotive world, such as Vodafone, the mere association with the glamorous world of F1 is calculated to be worth many millions. But for those with skin in the game, such as the car companies like Mercedes and Ferrari that are backing teams, it’s even more important. For buyers and commercial heads in charge of high-profile sports and events, this appetite provides a chance to exchange sponsorship and advertising rights for supplies. But this season, and this weekend’s British Grand Prix in particular, has served to show that being a high-profile supplier to the high-octane sport is not all grid girls and yacht parties. For Pirelli, having its tyres associated with the fastest cars and the best drivers boosts its profile significantly. But this benefit is undone when a global audience of millions witnesses those same tyres explode multiple times under the stress of the race.

This week Pirelli, like G4S last year, has learnt that putting your company in the spotlight can be catastrophic if the supplies or services provided go wrong. So maybe suppliers will start having second thoughts the next time they get approached to be a “partner”.

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