American Companies Welcome As Smoke Clears From F1
When the European Union directive banning tobacco advertising finally clears the smoke from Formula 1 sponsorship, American companies may find a clear road ahead in the race to build brand awareness.
With a Formula 1 championship race scheduled to take place in America next year, just how would European Formula 1 fans react to the idea of American companies sponsoring the sport?
Over four-fifths (82%) of European F1 fans questioned in a study conducted by Henley on Thames based, Performance Research Europe indicated that involvement in the sport by American companies would be either ?Very? or ?Somewhat appropriate?.
Although this doesn?t mean that any US company with money to spare can succeed or indeed would be welcome in Formula 1. When European fans were asked during aided questioning which companies best fit with their image of F1 racing, over three-quarters (78%) cited beer brand Budweiser, making it the company most often-mentioned, followed by Coca-Cola (77%), IBM (77%) and American Express (72%). The brands that failed to impress these fans included Cadillac and Sears.
The research also suggests that American companies already involved in US motorsports such as NASCAR will find the European Formula 1 fan different to brand loyal American racing fans.
Studies by Performance Research conducted in America over the last 14 years find, incredibly an average of 72% of NASCAR fans would ?Almost always? or ?Frequently? choose a brand or product associated with their sport, among European Formula 1 fans this figure stands at 28%. In fact, more Formula 1 fans indicated that they would ?Almost never? choose the Formula 1 sponsor (32%) than indicated that they would either ?Almost always? or ?Frequently? do so.
More consistent with American motorsports sponsorships, was the finding that over one-half (55%) of European Formula 1 fans reported that their impression of sponsor companies had ?Improved? as a result of the sponsorship. In addition to this it made them feel sponsor companies were ?More innovative? (58%) than companies that are not sponsors.
American companies who are looking to enter Formula 1 in order to raise awareness levels can also take comfort from the finding that currently, the top three most often-mentioned sponsors during unaided questioning are tobacco companies, all who will have left the sport under the European Union directive banning tobacco advertising, likely to be introduced in July 2001 and completed by 2006. Benson & Hedges was mentioned by 83% of respondents, helped no doubt by British fan loyalty to Jordan team driver Damon Hill. Following B&H came Marlboro (52%) and West 31%.
Staff from Performance Research Europe randomly intercepted and interviewed in person, two hundred and fifty-three (253) attendees throughout the race weekend of the RAC British Grand Prix, July 10-11th 1999. The margin of error is no more than 5 %.
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