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Brown defends title sponsor stance

NEWS STORY
12/02/2018

McLaren's woes over the last three seasons have not been confined to the race track. Along with the numerous engine failures and resultant grid penalties, so too the team has been penalised on the balance sheet, recording a net loss in 2016 of 3.2m on revenue which was down 4.5% to 179.8m, and with another dreadful season in 2017 that year's figures are likely to be equally depressing.

In recent weeks the team has announced a number of new partnerships, but nothing of any real (financial) significance.

Speaking to CityAM, Zak Brown has defended his controversial decision not to seek a deal that would involve a title sponsor for the team, a team which over the years has enjoyed a number of title sponsors ranging from cosmetics company Yardley in the early 70s through to Marlboro and Vodafone.

"I think there is not a lot of value in the naming of a team," said Brown. "I want Vodafone on the car but I don't want to be called Vodafone McLaren. I want to build the McLaren brand.

"When I first started, I wanted a 'title sponsor'," he admits, "but now I don't think the market is there for a title level spend so I have created a business model that has more along the lines of a principal partner, a primary partner, a co-primary partner, major sponsors and associate sponsors.

"If someone came to me tomorrow and said 'I really want to be the title partner' we would have that conversation but we are not pursuing that," he insists. "We are pursuing big brands and big branding."

Brown also defended the hiring of a 12-man group of business big-hitters, including Lord Coe, Richard Solomons, the former boss of InterContinental Hotels Group and Keith Weed, Unilever's chief marketing officer, not forgetting Jaime Bergel, Chairman of Bacardi-Martini SA which just happens to be title sponsor at Williams.

"Sponsorship is absolutely a big piece of it," he admits. "Their role is to advise, help and support myself and the leadership team in different areas of growing McLaren's business and absolutely sponsorship is one of those key elements. No doubt about it.

"They can help everywhere from their rolodex and strategies on industries to supporting when we are in presentations," he adds. "That's all on the sponsorship side. We also have some brand experts and the McLaren brand is very near and dear so they can help us bring it into new markets."

The group will certainly have its work cut out, as the continued domination of Mercedes in recent years has seen the TV audience shrink by 22% since 2013, while the total number of F1 sponsors last year was 228, down by 17% on 2016.

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1. Posted by Tafferel, 12/02/2018 22:05

"'I think there is not a lot of value in the naming of a team' - er yep there is. Probably about $40 million. I think we are in for a new era of Ron-speak, just the US bravado/buzz version. (co-primary partner?!?!?) Zak's stance sounds like a justification for the lack of title sponsor. In reality, if the right money was tipped on the table, he would ditch all this principal partner/primary partner nonsense."

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2. Posted by Agrajag, 12/02/2018 10:15

"Anybody else remember the fable and 60s/70s recorded song about “The Emperor’s New Clothes”?"

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