Santander withdraw from #F1 race sponsorship

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A quick glance at the F1 calendar reveals just 8 of the 20 races listed for 2015 has a titled sponsor

  • ROLEX AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX (Melbourne)
  • PETRONAS MALAYSIA GRAND PRIX (Kuala Lumpur)
  • CHINESE GRAND PRIX (Shanghai)
  • GULF AIR BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX (Sakhir)
  • GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA PIRELLI 2015 (Catalunya)
  • GRAND PRIX DE MONACO 2015 (Monte Carlo)
  • GRAND PRIX DU CANADA 2015 (Montréal)
  • GROSSER PREIS VON ÖSTERREICH 2015 (Spielberg)
  • BRITISH GRAND PRIX (Silverstone)
  • GROSSER PREIS VON DEUTSCHLAND 2015 (TBA)
  • PIRELLI MAGYAR NAGYDÍJ 2015 (Budapest)
  • SHELL BELGIAN GRAND PRIX (Spa-Francorchamps)
  • GRAN PREMIO D’ITALIA 2015 (Monza)
  • SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX (Singapore)
  • JAPANESE GRAND PRIX (Suzuka)
  • RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX (Sochi)
  • UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX (Austin)
  • GRAN PREMIO DE MÉXICO 2015 (Mexico City)
  • GRANDE PRÊMIO DO BRASIL 2015 (São Paulo)
  • ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX (Yas Marina)

In 2009, just the Chinese and Monaco race organisers were not associated with commercial partners – though Monaco never is and pays no hosting fee to F1.

Both the British and German GP’s this year have lost Santander as a sponsor, as their deals expired and the Spanish Bank chose not to renew them.

Having you name associated with a Formula One race costs around $6m and for that you get the TV brand exposure and usually an allocation of grandstand tickets along with an area where the sponsor can set up and run corporate hospitality.

Santander received around 5000 tickets at Silverstone, which works out at $1200 per person, before adding on the costs of providing them with goody bags, free drinks and food.

Much of the Spanish Bank’s spend on hospitality at Silverstone had been cut in recent years, with only a few guest being treated to the ‘full monty’ of hospitality. Most of those invited by Santander received just one $15 voucher for food and drink all day, along with non-exclusive hospitality areas in which to spend them.

TJ13 has learned from a source involved in Santander promotional activity, that in 2014 they were unable to find enough willing individuals amongst their ‘corporate partners’ to initially accept tickets to attend the British Grand Prix. Hundreds of last minute phone calls were made in the week prior to the race as various Santander divisions offered other guests a last minute opportunity to attend the race.

Clearly Santander have made the decision that they no longer derive the appropriate benefit from the costs attached to sponsoring a Formula One race.

Four of the eight race sponsors listed above are either government owned or affiliated organisations, whilst Pirelli is compelled as the F1 tyre supplier to sponsor two race weekends per season.

This leaves Rolex and Shell. Rolex and Shell are signed up global partners of FOM and Shell is a the official fuel supplier to Ferrari.

Unless a global company has some existing affiliation to Formula One, there is no longer any commercial appetite for sponsoring a Formula One race. This clearly demonstrates the brand marketing platform of the sport is deteriorating and there is no list of commercial enterprises keen to be affiliated with Formula One and/or pay its rack rates.

SKY F1 is again looking for a sponsor for its Formula One channel even though it has exclusive live broadcasts in the UK.

Yet, despite Ecclestone’s apparent refusal to acknowledge the power of social media and the internet as a potential source of revenue, there are signs that the powers that be within CVC have different ideas.

The revamped F1.com site will be launched ahead of the season opener in Australia, and the beta version looks more dynamic and 21st century. The usual headers are there along with a footer that links to the twitter feed, though there is no Facebook or YouTube link in sight.

There will be a member’s area behind a paywall which will link to the F1app. The prices are interesting, as in the UK an annual membership fee of £19.99 is on offer – much reduced form the cost of the F1app in 2014.

At present the price for subscription in the USA is listed as $12.99 a month or $129.99 for the year.

To entice new members FOM states: “Enhance the way you experience Formula 1 racing. Discover a level of detail you won’t find anywhere else – complete with in-depth insights, exclusive content, up-to-the-minute race data, and more.”

That said, no live video is planned however content will include, “industry-leading editorial content featuring video supplements and historical footage from the archives.”

Only time will tell whether this becomes the money spinner FOM hopes, but once again this will all be revenue direct to the commercial rights owners and of little help to the race promoters.

9 responses to “Santander withdraw from #F1 race sponsorship

  1. I would love to be surprised, but from past experience there has been nothing which could convince me of the new plan’s success.

  2. How about doing a Kickstarter campaign to fund thejudge13 to sponsor the British grand prix? If we can haggle the price down to, say £2-3M, and raffle-off the tickets between the subscribers to the site (should boost the visitor numbers!), fun day out to be had by all!
    Imagine…”Welcome to thejudge13 British Grand Prix” : )

  3. Wow! I appreciate this article.

    Anyone else surprised or disturbed by this following quote? “… a source involved in Santander promotional activity… in 2014… were unable to find enough willing individuals amongst their ‘corporate partners’ to initially accept tickets to attend the British Grand Prix.”

    Perhaps that highlights the essence of F1 today… you can’t even give away tickets to attend a race!

    Is it that FOM’s direction is to market F1 to the 1%ers, but that demographic are not very interested in F1? #RoadToFailure

    • As with many other things people cite as “Problems With F1”, not being able to shift an allocation of tickets to corporate partners isn’t anything new – it was a massive topic before the London 2012 Olympic Games, it happened at the World Cup too, and so on. It isn’t indicative of anything to do with F1 itself, unless you’re trying to imply that football’s also not as popular because they didn’t fill up all the corporate boxes at the World Cup games?

      It’s not too surprising that that model of ticket distribution within corporate allocations doesn’t work – you’ve usually got a particular demographic, and not all of them are going to be interested enough in a particular event/sport to want to have to put their life on hold for a weekend to go and attend it to “see what it’s like”. However, it’s a pretty handy tax write-off for the companies involved and it can lead to happier clients so although it doesn’t mean full attendances at races, it can still be a useful tool for bigger companies.

      Regarding Santander, Ana Botin was appointed as Chair of the Santander Group, and decided to “revamp” their business strategies compared to her (now deceased) father who ran the show before. Consequently it could just be that the quickest way to post up improved profits is to reduce losses/outgoings, aka not paying as much money out for sponsorship of events or marketing…

      • @UpsideDown – Very much appreciate that perspective… Interesting that these situations happens across all major sports.

        Sports marketing is a challenging business.

        Like many in the banking sector, Santander’s current business challenges are well documented.

  4. what a bunch of morons. the more time passes the more I’m convinced they are trying to devalue the investment and at the same time give a taste of the “possibilities”

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