Energy drinks firm Red Bull has the strongest brand presence among fans in Formula 1, according to the results of the global survey conducted by the Grand Prix Drivers Association and Motorsport.com.
Following detailed analysis of responses of over 130,000 fans from 194 countries – who participated in the biggest sports survey in history – just under half answered ‘Red Bull’ when asked to recall five brands that sponsor F1.
Red Bull owns two teams – four-time world constructors champions Red Bull Racing and the former Minardi team, Toro Rosso. It has also invested heavily in its junior driver programme, and backed many more teams and drivers throughout the sport’s recent history.
“Firstly, this is the reason why Red Bull is in Formula 1,” Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner told Motorsport.com. “To generate eyeballs on the core product, which is obviously the energy drink.
“It’s great to see those results in terms of recognition for the brand, particularly with the difference to the other well-known brands.”
Ferrari sponsors Shell and Marlboro are second and third on the global-response list, with a 19% difference between Red Bull (46%) and Shell (27%). Although third-placed Marlboro (24%) hasn’t enjoyed visible full branding in Grand Prix racing since 2007, the cigarette firm’s owner Philip Morris has continued to fund the Italian team.
When asked if the results prove that Formula 1’s balance of brand power has shifted away from being Ferrari-centric, Horner replied: “Red Bull is a good addition to F1, and F1 as it evolves is more than just Ferrari.
“It demonstrates the power of our brand; you can see that through your survey.”
The survey results reveal that the closest Red Bull came to being toppled from the number one spot geographically was in the Americas, where it slipped to 42% and Marlboro rose to second on 39%.
Martini’s F1 move proves the right one
The brand that has benefited the most from its recent F1 return is Martini & Rossi, whose alcoholic beverage brand association with Williams since 2014 has seen it leap to fourth on the list on 22%, level with Mercedes fuel and lubricants supplier Petronas.
“I think it’s great to see a sponsor that’s only been back in the sport for a season and a half to have that resonance,” said deputy team principal Claire Williams. “I think it shows Williams Martini Racing must be doing something right.”
Deeper analysis of the results, which have been scrutinized in huge detail by survey and research industry leaders Repucom, show Martini rose to second position in the thinking of ‘avid’ fans, to equal Shell on 29%.
The survey clearly demonstrated that brands with historical and emotive links to the sport performed more strongly than others in the minds of more engaged fans.
“I’m sure that it owes a lot to Martini’s powerful heritage in this sport,” added Williams. “It clearly plays a big part in that.
“But now it’s wrapped up in Williams’s journey, and that whole transformation from 2013 – we were talked about a lot, and it showed a new beginning for Williams.
"Effectively, Williams Martini Racing is a new brand, and to get that right isn’t easy – but people have clearly bought into it. They like us, and that’s great.”
Top 10 answers (from 100 brands suggested)
Question: Please name the first five brands or companies that come to mind who sponsor F1 Grand Prix races, teams, drivers etc.