Heineken is to sponsor the Formula One racing championship, The Drum has learned.
The beer brewer declined to comment on the news when approached by The Drum, however an announcement is believed to be imminent. It’s a direct partnership with the sport’s governing body the FIA rather than any of the teams, according to a source close to the matter.
Part of the activation plan is inspired by the ‘Heineken House’ activation, which it will run in Rio de Janeiro for its Olympic sponsorship this summer after a successful launch at the London 2012 Games. Billed as a ‘home away from home’ for guests, the previous version was outfitted with a myriad of shops, restaurants, reception rooms for sponsors and athletes as well as media facilities.
For Heineken, a deal with Formula One opens the beer up to glamour associated with the sport, putting it in-front of high-net worth individuals as well as giving it more exposure worldwide. The business has had a strong to the year, selling far more beer than expected in the first three months of the year and a new sponsorship could give it even more momentum going into the second half of the year.
While the reasons for the deal are clear, it could reignite calls to end alcohol sponsorship in Formula One. Some 12 months ago, a campaign group published a report that claimed it was a “dangerous cocktail” for the sport to be campaigning for road safety while simultaneously giving exposure to alcohol brands.
There’s also a concern about the commercial health of the sport. Earlier this month it was reported that Formula One teams are hemorrhaging sponsorship revenues. In 2015, teams generated $750, down from $950m three years prior as changes in how the sport is run from season to seasons starts to dampen brand interest in the sport. Declining TV and track-side audiences combined with the technical and financial demands of the sport are reportedly putting off sponsors.