The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes (formerly).
…and now, the Verizon IndyCar Series.
With the recent announcement of Verizon replacing IZOD as the title sponsor of the IndyCar series, the racing world was presented with a very positive note about IndyCar, and racing as a whole.
Verizon, long-time partnered with the Roger Penske family of companies, has been a slow but growing partner in the world of motorsports. Partnered with Roger Penske in 2009, Verizon’s trademark black with red streaks adorned the side of not only Penske’s prototype entry in the Rolex Sports Car Series, but also a part-time entry with the team’s third IndyCar entry as well as NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Over the next four years, starting in 2010, the on-track success of IndyCar driver Will Power pushed Verizon and Penske to focus their efforts on a full-season effort with the Australian driver, earning countless victories en route to three consecutive runner-up finishes, narrowly missing out on the driver’s title on every occasion.
When Williams F1, a once-heralded dynasty of the Formula One circuit, recently revealed their Martini livery (and rebranded name to Williams Martini F1), thoughts among racing historians immediately regressed to the glory days of the 1970’s and 1980’s. As Formula One gained popularity on the worldwide stage, the iconic blue, white, and red stripes of the gin/vermouth liquor became a signature part of the sport, only to slowly fade as the expense and nature of the sport transitioned during the late ‘80’s to present day.
Where this is especially poignant in the business landscape of modern motorsport, is it’s the first time in quite a while that we’ve seen a proper retail brand align themselves with a race team in the interest of branding and exposure, with no equity stake in the team (that we know of).
The brand alignment of Martini & Rossi, an elegant, Italian brand, with the sophisticated and world-renowned sport of Formula One is an obvious fit. Yet in an advertising culture that only continues to grow a wider gap against the operating costs of motorsport, it’s becoming more and more rare to see.