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For the past few weeks rumours have been swirling around that American soft drinks giant Coca-Cola is considering sponsoring Formula One. Pitpass alluded to it on 8 June and, one month later, business editor Christian Sylt revealed that the rumours are indeed true. Another supporter has now backed up this view leaving the paddock on the edge of its seat waiting to see if Coca-Cola will decide to pour its money into F1.
Soon after the initial report was published a few lone voices suggested it was hard to imagine that Coke is even considering sponsoring F1. "You are dreaming if you think there is Coca-Cola money for F1," said one.
This wasn't a knee-jerk reaction as it was justified with the explanation that "Coca-Cola is a global brand and does not need any exposure. Thus when it does a sponsorship deal it is looking for better ways to engage with fans, or to sell more drinks. They tend to go to sports because they are engaging. F1 is simply not the right place for them to be...The only thing that might make sense is if Coca-Cola was to buy Monster, as was rumoured a few months ago (but denied by Coke). Monster would be a good fit in F1, in direct competition to Red Bull. However, even in that scenario, I don't think F1 is cool enough for Monster's idea of its own image."
It is debatable whether F1 isn't the right place for Coca-Cola but it is definitely helpful to raise the example of Monster when thinking about this subject. It is correct that Coca-Cola was reportedly considering buying Monster which indicates its interest to the soft drinks giant. However, it is most certainly not correct to say that F1 isn't cool enough for Monster as in fact it is already involved with the sport as a partner of Mercedes GP. It isn't the only one as of course Red Bull and Lucozade also have team partnerships showing F1's appeal to beverage brands.
In the wake of the initial revelation about Coca-Cola considering sponsoring F1, others have now stepped forward to dismiss talk that the brand is not looking at F1. "Is Coca Cola giving Formula 1 a serious look? From what I understand of the situation, yes it is," says Will Buxton, SPEED Channel's F1 pit reporter, on his blog. Sylt has known Buxton since 2003 when they worked for magazines owned by F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone, but the pit reporter's conclusion that Coca-Cola is considering sponsoring the sport comes from a different source.
"I'd heard the rumour from a number of paddock sources over the past two months: namely, that when Vodafone's title sponsorship of [McLaren] ends (with some sources claiming it will finish prematurely at the end of this season), Coca Cola will step in. Even a livery had apparently been mooted, a sort of homage to the old Marlboro livery we so associate with McLaren. White and red, lest we not forget, are also Coca Cola's corporate colours," says Buxton.
However, he adds that "the more I've looked into it, I'm afraid to say the less likely a link up seems. There is one pretty major hurdle that stands in the way of any such deal, and that is McLaren's link with GlaxoSmithKline." He explains that the company already has logos for its Lucozade energy drink on the McLaren cars and one of its competitors is Powerade, which is owned by Coca-Cola.
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