Australian GP announces new major sponsor

Foster's ? the Melbourne-based global beer brand - is the new naming rights sponsor of the Australian Grand Prix. Already a worldwide partner of Formula One, the official beer supplier to the world's most watched annual sporting championship...

Foster's ? the Melbourne-based global beer brand - is the new naming rights sponsor of the Australian Grand Prix.

Already a worldwide partner of Formula One, the official beer supplier to the world's most watched annual sporting championship and the naming rights sponsor of the British and Belgian Grands Prix, Foster's Group president and chief executive officer Mr Ted Kunkel said the Australian Grand Prix was "the jewel in the crown".

"It's the third leg of a 'trifecta' of Grand Prix naming rights sponsorships for Foster's and we're absolutely thrilled that we're going to be involved in such a big way with the Australian Grand Prix in our company's home town, Melbourne," Mr Kunkel said.

"Formula One has given the Foster's brand enormous international horsepower already, and this takes our participation in a massive global sport to a new level.

"The Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne each March is the starting point of the FIA Formula One World Championship and is enormously important to us, and we will treat it as such."

Foster's has secured the naming rights to the Australian Grand Prix for five years until 2006, with an option to renew.

The announcement of the Foster's sponsorship was made in Melbourne today by the Victorian Premier, Mr Steve Bracks.

"The Victorian Government is committed to keeping the Australian Grand Prix in the state for many years to come, and we see this long-term sponsorship of the event by Foster's as playing a major part in achieving that goal," Mr Bracks said.

"Foster's has a history of involvement in Formula One, but I know that gaining the title rights to the Australian Grand Prix in its home town is a very special 'victory' for Foster's."

Welcoming Foster's as the new major sponsor of Australia's biggest annual international sporting event, Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Mr Ronald Walker, AO, CBE, said the deal marked "a passing of the baton from one Australian corporate icon to another".

"Qantas has been an absolutely fantastic naming rights sponsor of the Australian Grand Prix for five years and, while Foster's is now taking up that position, Qantas will continue to be hugely involved with the event," Mr Walker said.

"Qantas will continue to be the official airline of the Australian Grand Prix, a sponsorship that I'm informed remains one of its biggest sports sponsorships.

"The Australian Grand Prix is a hallmark event not only of the Victorian major events calendar but, especially since becoming the first race of the season, of the FIA Formula One World Championship. "It is a reflection of the event's standing in the world of international sport that it attracts naming rights sponsors of the status of Foster's and Qantas.

"Foster's has already made an enormous mark on Formula One through its involvement in the sport for two decades, including naming rights of the Australian Grand Prix between 1986 and 1993 in Adelaide before the event came to Melbourne.

"The enthusiasm and commitment that Foster's brings to this new sponsorship of the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne parallels perfectly the Australian Grand Prix Corporation's aims and ambitions in taking the event to new levels in the years ahead."

Foster's has already run one of the world's largest consumer promotions ? called Fostralia Formula Oz ? and has plans to bring 1,000 competition winners from around the world to Melbourne for the 2002 Foster's Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park from February 28 to March 3.

Ted Kunkel, Foster's Group President and CEO, commented: "The driving factor behind our decision to pursue this opportunity is that the Australian Grand Prix is a truly international spectacle, watched by 600 million viewers in 212 countries, and part of the fastest-growing sport in the world today. Foster's is one of the world's fastest-growing beer brands and the Australian Grand Prix is entirely synergistic with our global marketing efforts.

"Through this title sponsorship we will be able to promote the race in more than 150 countries where Foster's is sold. We see this as a long-term partnership between Foster's, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation and the State Government. By working together as proud Australians we will be in a position to showcase Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and Foster's to the world."

"Foster's has enjoyed a rich history with Formula One Grand Prix for almost 20 years," said Rick Scully, Managing Director, Foster's Brewing International. "Only 12 months ago Foster's announced a decade long deal with Grand Prix worldwide which takes into account exposure through premium track-side signage at the majority of races, pouring rights at 12 races, Paddock Club sponsorship at 16 races and naming rights sponsorship at Grands Prix in Britain ? the home of Grand Prix, in Continental Europe in Belgium and now in Australia, the jewel in our crown.

"Independent research has shown the televised level of exposure of Foster's to be higher than any other brand during the 2000 season, making Foster's the number one brand track-side. The compelling combination of Foster's and Grand Prix in markets as diverse as Britain, Europe, North America, South America and Asia is almost unstoppable. And now, the global success story of Foster's and Formula One comes home to Melbourne."

Mark Webber, Australia's greatest hope for its next Formula One driver, is aiming for a place on the grid at the Foster's Australian Grand Prix in front of his home crowd. The 24-year-old Australian, who has a long-term sponsorship with Foster's, has caught the eye of Formula One teams, fans and media around the world and is determined to make his mark in Melbourne. Webber is the test driver for the Benetton Formula One team and he currently holds second position in the International Formula 3000 Championship with the Super Nova team. Formula 3000 has long been considered a stepping-stone to the Formula One grid.

"I'm enormously proud that Foster's is now the title sponsor of my home event and I'm working hard to secure a place for myself on the grid in Melbourne in 2002," said Mark Webber from Europe when he heard the news.

-AGP/Forster's

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Mark Webber
Teams Benetton