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F1 in S’pore ‘an opportunity on the doorstep’

THE inaugural Singapore Grand Prix offers companies in the Republic an unprecedented opportunity to do some marketing and branding to a vast global audience, said a visiting Formula One (F1) marketing expert.

Still, few Singapore names have thus far stepped forward to take advantage of the opportunity that is ‘right here on your doorstep’, said Mr Mark Gallagher, the London-based managing director of sports marketing consultancy Eden Rock Sports Management.

This, he said, was a great pity and ironic considering the way that Changi Airport’s transit lounge has been blanketed by Royal Bank of Scotland’s advertisements celebrating the Singapore Grand Prix. The bank is one of F1’s global sponsors.

Mr Gallagher is in Singapore to discuss F1-related marketing prospects with potential clients in the banking and logistics industries.The Singapore leg of the race, in September, is the first night race in F1 history.

With more than 800 print journalists and 150 TV crews covering it, the Singapore Grand Prix is expected to generate tremendous global buzz, said Mr Gallagher, who has teamed up with Singapore public relations agency Baldwin Boyle Shand to offer specialised F1-related marketing services.

The global TV audience for F1 is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions.

This lack of local participation is probably not due to a lack of interest, said Mr Gallagher.

More likely, wannabe-Singapore marketeers have been spooked by reports of multi-million-dollar F1-related deals, which have given the impression that companies without such hefty budgets have no chance to get in on the buzz.

That impression is wrong, said Mr Gallagher, who has worked for a number of F1 teams, including stints with the Jordan and Jaguar teams.

‘Commercially astute’ F1 teams are very open to sponsorship talks, he said. Prices range from US$50,000 (S$70,800) for ‘hospitality’ – industry- speak for getting an F1 team or a driver to appear at a company’s event like a gala dinner or product launch, to US$500,000 or more to sponsor one of the 12 F1 team’s Singapore races.

While this is not pocket change, such budgets are clearly well within the means of many Singapore companies, he said.

And while cash sponsorship is always a priority, teams are not above bartering for goods and services they need, such as technical support or printing supplies, he said.

The cleverest deals, he said, are probably available now, in the race’s first year. This is because success breeds success, and if the race this year is successful – and he is confident it will be – costs are likely to spiral up in the following years, he said.

The F1 race will be in Singapore for the next five years.

 

Source: The Straits Times 5 Feb 08

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