It was announced yesterday that beer brand Heineken has confirmed its new partnership with Formula One after launching the news in the Montreal paddock at the Canadian Grand Prix.
The deal has been an open secret for several months, but was finally made official at a press conference on Thursday ahead of the first official race of the partnership at the Italian Grand Prix. The new contract runs until the end of the 2020 season, but Heineken’s senior director global Gianluca Di Tondo indicated that his company is seeking an even longer partnership.
Contrary to reports circulating in the paddock, the new deal will not see Heineken branding on cars or drivers, with the deal cut solely with Formula One Management where the company believes it can add value. The beer brand will be visible at race circuits and has secured naming rights for this year’s Italian Grand Prix as well as visibility at all the remaining grands prix after that — except Abu Dhabi where alcohol advertising is illegal.
In the following years of the contract, Heineken will have the title sponsorship at three grands prix, with visibility at a further six races. As the official beer partner of F1, Heineken will also have bars in all grands prix as well as a Heineken lounge at race tracks for fans to visit.
In a statement to the media at the press conference yesterday. Di Tondo said the following about the sponsorship as follows:-
‘Formula One is bigger than a race. It is a global event. F1 represents a unique opportunity for Heineken to engage with existing and potential consumers in important growth markets. F1 delivers in three specific areas; strong commercial opportunities; expansion of our responsible drinking platform in new and innovative ways; and enabling skill transfers between F1 and our employees.’
In his own statement at the press conference yesterday, Bernie Ecclestone added the following:-
‘Heineken is a premium international brand with a super reputation for first class marketing. I am very pleased to welcome them to the Formula One family and look forward to the scale and quality of their activation at and away from F1 Events. We are both in the innovation and enjoyment business and I hope that this is the start of a long and special relationship. When I have a beer, I have always been happy with a Heineken.’
Heineken also addressed concerns about linking an alcohol product with the biggest racing series in the world. The company has pledged to use its deal with F1 to push a message of “If you drive, never drink” and announced three-time champion Sir Jackie Stewart as an ambassador for the campaign.