Force India confirms Smirnoff sponsorship deal

2014 F1 season

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Force India has confirmed a major new sponsorship deal with Smirnoff.

The Russian vodka brand owned by British company Diageo will have its branding on the rear wing and top of the VJM07 chassis, with branding on the sidepods at selected, “key” races.

The branding will be used to “deliver a powerful anti-drink drive message”, said the team in a statement.

Force India managing director Vijay Mallya said: “As a team we’ve always mixed the highest professionalism on the track with great celebrations away from it and our partnership with Smirnoff reinforces these values.”

“As we continue to make progress on the track, Smirnoff is the ideal brand to help celebrate these moments and open up the sport to new fans.”

Force India have made their best-ever start to an F1 season, scoring 54 points in the first four races and holding third place in the constructors’ championship behind Red Bull.

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Keith Collantine
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94 comments on “Force India confirms Smirnoff sponsorship deal”

  1. as expected from the “King of good times”

    1. With Smirnoff Force India has 4 alcohol company branding, the other being Whyte and Mackay, Royal Challenge and Kingfisher ……..king of good times indeed.

      1. But…I was always advised not to mix my drinks!

        1. Just WAY too hilarious!

          1. kinda undermines the whole “powerful anti-drink drive message,” eh…

    2. or rather the king who had to hand away his kingdom, as Diageo is not paying much for this sponsorship deal because of the contracts for them buying the liquor business to enable him to pay back some creditors.

  2. The branding will be used to “deliver a powerful anti-drink drive message”
    Yeah right…

    1. Yes, it’s a shame they always feel like they have to talk this idiotic corporate language.
      Who is dumb enough to believe this crap. Or actually who is dumb enough to believe this would be a PRO drink-and-drive message?

    2. Don’t understand that one either – is there more in the team statement about this?

      1. It is just about being “politically correct”. At the end of the day, the branding is used to get more people to buy the drink. And since the branding is on a sports car, they had to appease the trolls who would say it is wrong for a motorsport team to promote drinking.

      2. Williams did not run full Martini logos in Bahrain, the colours were there but the word ‘MARTINI’ was substituted for the word ‘RACING’. Presumably this is because not a lot of alcohol is sold in Bahrain.

        A similar problem arises at Abu Dhabi (and possibly elsewhere), so expect Smirnoff to ‘deliver a powerful anti-drink drive message’ at such events. For everything else, e.g. British Grand Prix, expect branding as illustrated, with no ‘powerful blah blah message’.

    3. Would be much more effective if Lotus plastered Maldonado’s car with Vodka labels. then just sit back and let him do a year’s worth of drink driving awareness campaigning in a single race….

      1. hahahaha. Brilliant!

      2. Haha, good one. +1

    4. Yeah, and the best to do this is call a Vodka maker to teach us…

    5. Probably as powerful as the anti-smoking messages once so prevalent…

  3. Its important to note that Diageo (Smirnoff) already holds major share in UB group (ForceIndia).

    1. Thanks for the insight. I was just wondering if this could be an effect of the current blockade on Russian stuff due to the Ukrainian mess, while we all know McLaren is also waiting for a major sponsor, and that the owners are British … Business tends to be only a matter of money though.

      1. There is no ‘blockade” on Russian stuff. They have frozen some off shore bank accounts of very rich Russian businessmen. They cannot issue any sanctions on the russian economy because it would damage the EU members more than Russia itself.

        Not to mention how there is no proof of Russia being involved in the protests in the east of Ukraine, while there is substantial proof that the USA was involved in the Kiev revolution. The ‘sanctions’ really are just the west trying to show the world that it is the one who calls the shots, and they are spinning a story to justify it.

    2. Indeed, because it means that they do not actually pay a great deal of money for the sponsorship.

      1. Smirnoff is owned by Diageo and has nothing to do with UB group. It is a completely different entity and brand name. The sponsorship was probably influenced by the relationship, but I doubt the money would be low.

        1. Doesnt Diageo want to take over UB? Or has it already happened?

          1. Diageo already has a minority stake in the United Breweries although an additional stake sale from Mallya is currently being contested in court. Mallya still retains control thanks to his promoter shares, in spite of having less 26% of owner ship in the company.

            So technically, UB is a Diageo subsidiary investment.

        2. @rojov134 United Breweries is partially owned by Diageo. Smirnoff is marketed in India with help from United Breweries. So yes there is a deep relationship between these two. Vijay Mallya owns both ForceIndia and UB. He is feeling from debts after his second attempt at aviation business flopped (first was UB Air).

          Which is also the reason you saw Sahara buying a 42.5% stake in ForceIndia. The way business run sometimes is not obvious. You can be forgiven not to understand the semantics of such an environment.

  4. While I think drink driving is going to crop up a fair bit over this particular sponsorship deal, I think its pertinent that everyone stops to think about all the other sponsors that support F1 teams, and ask the question of how many Microsoft CRM systems you’ve bought, or how many Rolex or Tag Heuer watches you’ve bought. Or even how many Infiniti cars have you looked at procuring, before starting down the merry way of saying that alcohol sponsorship on a race car promotes drink driving.
    I think most people in the western world are rational enough to realise that consuming alcohol and driving a car at the same time or while still intoxicated won’t be influenced or even rationalised by an F1 car carrying a brand of alcohol.

    1. PS I’m glad that Force India have been able to secure a sponsor, even if it is 4 races into the season.

    2. Sponsorship isn’t about making you go buy the product directly and while a large audience may be reached, it doesn’t mean it is intended for everyone. I don’t think they’re really trying to sell tampons specifically to you when you’re watching TV, much like they’re not trying to sell Rolexes to Joe the Plumber by advertising on F1 tracks. A lot of F1 advertisement is business to business (hence the IT companies and Consulting branches sponsoring F1 in the late 90s en masse).

      If anything it is about brand awareness. The simplest I can put it; Oakley has been sponsoring Ferrari this season; now I am noticing Oakley sunglasses in malls. I’m not going to spend that kind of money on sunglasses, but the fact they’ve made me aware of their brand outside of F1 means there’s something working.

      1. I, for one, never noticed Infinitis existed before Red Bull.

        1. GB (@bgp001ruled)
          1st May 2014, 21:45

          in my case almost 70% of the brands that appeared on the BrawnGP car were new to me!

    3. Michael Brown
      2nd May 2014, 20:55

      That would be like saying telecommunications sponsorships promote talking on the phone while driving.

  5. By placing advertisement of vodka producer, they will try people to discourage from drunk driving? It sounds silly at best.

    I think advertisements of producers of alcoholic beverages should not be allowed because it does not send any anti-drink drive message. Quite contrary – it associates fastest cars in the world with alcohol and we all know what happens when drunk drivers drive cars at speed. Alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs (yes, it’s a drug!) in the world and if advertisements of cigarettes are not allowed, advertisements of alcohol should not be allowed either.

    1. So, what’s your view about Williams “Martini” Racing Team?

      1. Although livery looks good, but I don’t justify it, so my view is negative.

        1. How about the champagne being sprayed by the drivers? That is alcohol too.. aint it?

          1. but critically that is AFTER the race @rojov123

          2. @bascb But the logos are on the outside of the cars! If there is a connection between the logos being shown and the cars driving it could just as well be “drink and watch other people drive” which is exactly what you often have to do if you drink. Of course that isn’t how the human mind works so it will make no more difference to how many people drink drive than other sponsorship affects how many people use their phone, wash their hair, do personal banking or book flights when they’re driving.

            If Smirnoff use their promotional platform between races to promote an anti-dring-driving message because they want their brand to attract people who value responsible drinking then all the better.

    2. I think advertisements of producers of alcoholic beverages should not be allowed

      I agree… except that alcohol advertising has allowed us to have the Martini Williams this year. :)

    3. So if you see and advert on the side of a bus, does that make you want to become a bus driver or take ride just because of the advert? It makes no difference where an advert is placed. Just so long as you are aware of it and come buying time that brand crosses your mind. Mclaren have had Johnny Walker as a sponsor for years yet I’ve yet to hear the nonsense that is being spouted here. Force India had Kingfisher (a Beer), Whyte and Mackay (sprits) and others as sponsors with no uproar. If people want to drink and drive they will. Not because of F1.

      1. So why they band advertisment of cigarettes?

        1. You mean apart from the fact that it’s vastly more addictive, deadly, lasting in its harm to health, harmful to others nearby and has a cumulative harmful effect even when consumed in small quantities?

          1. @w-h In different ways, but it also aplies to alcohol.

          2. Alcohol consumed in moderation doesn’t do any harm to either the health of the consumer or those around them. Not all the issues surrounding tobacco apply to alcohol, and for those it has in common, tobacco is not just “different” but objectively worse.

          3. @osvaldas31 – The amount of alcohol it takes to cause permanent harm is much greater than the amount of tobacco. What’s more, some studies have shown that small amounts (and I do mean small) of alcohol can actually be beneficial.

          4. The risks of alcohol to oneself aren’t that much less than those caused by smoking. However, smoking does cause immediate harm also to everyone around you when you do it.

          5. Well that depends on the quantity of each. People who smoke are more likely to be addicts and therefore doing more harm to themselves than drinkers. Also, drinking doesn’t actively hurt those around.

        2. Not to stop smoke-and-drive lol.

      2. Tiomkin you are naive. The place where it is shown always matter. I know this world very well trust me, there are millions in stake, and shareholders ARE interested in the place where it is shown.

        And yes it’s associated to driving, because everyone knows that one can’t drink and drive, so one will take the taxi after drinking… a Smirnoff. That’s the plan, simple. And you then produce many derivative products, and you sell more. There is no philanthropy, just business.

        1. @spoutnik So by your logic watching F1 makes everyone drive fast? So let’s slow down the cars to 30mph to aid safety. As I said above if someone is going to drink and drive, seeing vodka on the side of an F1 car will make no difference. Unless that person has a malfunctioning brain like you seem to have.
          Trust me, I know this world very well too.

          1. What are you talking about? I never said such things, I just said that in those kind of campaigns they see absolutely no problem with drink and drive, they even print coasters with cars on it to be distributed in bars.

    4. @osvaldas31 Alcohol is NOT a drug and healthy for you in moderate doses. To say that alcohol is the same as cigarettes is completely unscientific and a lie. Cigarettes are dangerous for you, and those around you, period. Alcohol is only dangerous in unreasonable amounts or when drunk-driving. In fact some over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin are more dangerous for you. Let’s ban their ads as well. Let’s ban everything

      Mclaren and Johnny Walker have been promoting safe driving for years thru the racing with Mika Hakkinen. They had made those videos, for example, with cones and scandinavian flicks to show what happens to your driving skills when you’re drunk. When some gov-t dork says so, no one cares. But when it’s Mclaren and Mika Hakkinen it’s much more effective

      The same as strategies to promote responsible driving in general thru racing(i.e. racing is for the track, not for the road) have been proven effective over the years so are the strategies of preventing drunk driving.

      Good on Force India to secure a major sponsor. Might just keep their heads above the water, when Bernie and his Lousy-Strategy-Gang -Group tries so hard to sink them,(and all small teams ) down

      Some fans don’t care though. All they care about is raining on parades with unjustified false safety claims comparing apples and oranges

      1. @montreal95 I don’t say that cigarettes and alcohol are the same. But alcohol is very dangerous. You probably haven’t seen what alcohol can do. I live in Lithuania, where people drink quite a lot of alcoholic beverages and some drive which ends with horrible consequences. Some don’t drive but they do other horrible things when drunk. So I don’t think that in other ways alcohol is no less dangerous than cigarettes. I’m against not only alcohol, but also cigarettes. But I just don’t understand why cigarette advertisment is banned, while alcohol advertisement is allowed.

        1. @osvaldas31 Look I don’t disagree that alcohol can be dangerous. I was born in former USSR(different area from yourself) and though I don’t live there anymore for over 20 years I know full well the problems of chronic alcoholism. Or even the effects of a one-time immoderate consumption that can be very bad indeed. But so do many other things. you take sleeping pills immoderately? You could die.

          A cigarette(and drugs in general) are bad from the first one. There’s no moderate amount. Drinking a glass of red wine a day isn’t bad for you and doesn’t make you an alcoholic or in any way dangerous to your environment

          I’m all for promoting sensible drinking. But banning all ads=treating it the same as tobacco is wrong IMO

        2. GB (@bgp001ruled)
          1st May 2014, 22:02

          alcohol is not dangerous when you drink it moderatelly! if you drink in huge amounts is not the alcohols fault, it is the drinkers fault!!! cant you see the difference?

      2. @montreal95

        Alcohol is NOT a drug and healthy for you in moderate doses.

        As the old saying goes, everything is healthy for you in the right dose. But to say alcohol isn’t a drug is absolutely hilarious. It’s a psychoactive drug, fact. That’s science and multiple Biological sources talking.. But if you want to discount them then fair enough. Just go and have 10 pints, attempt to think, walk, and talk normally. Then tell me it isn’t a drug haha. Generally, a substance that alters mind, body, or physical state is a drug.
        The only people who claim alcohol isn’t a drug, are the people who think marijuana is the devil’s plant or something haha. It’ about time we jut embrace the fact booze are drugs too.

        1. @timi Except the things like cigarettes, for example, for which the right dose is zero :)

          It’s not the best argument to say that something which is disputed is a fact, like you’d done. There’s no consensus that alcohol is a drug simply because the very definition of what constitutes a drug is disputed. In fact there’s a view that caffeine is much more of a “drug” than alcohol is. My view is: If something that’s toxic/addictive/dangerous in excessive amounts is a drug then everything is a drug. Fast Food is a drug(as excessive consumption of any food). The only difference between alcoholic beverage and carbonated drink full of harmful sugar is the chemical composition(contains ethanol) means it’s harmful amount threshold is lower

          Regardless, of where you stand, it’s illogical in view of the above, to state that “if tobacco ads are banned so should be alcohol ads”. It’s nowhere near the same thing

          1. @montreal95 Right on, I disagree with @osvaldas31 as well, that argument doesn’t really hold water. I just have a massive problem with anyone who thinks alcohol isn’t a drug/claims it’s any old substance. By the way, it’s not my definition, nor is it debated in the medical world. Alcohol is a drug, simple as. The key thing you’re missing is the fact it alters the way your body functions – harmful or otherwise. A carbonated drink might make you bloated, but having 4 or 5 wont make you throw up, or pass-out, or forget how to speak properly. Heck, nothing humans ingest will do that apart from… you guessed it, drugs lol.

            Note: I agree wholeheartedly that ” If something that’s toxic/addictive/dangerous in excessive amounts is a drug then everything is a drug.” There’s just more to it than those 3 factors

      3. @montreal95 +1

        Not the same at all, and while there is some debate about alcohol being a drug, it is nowhere near the same.

        Shall we ban adverts such as Vodafone as it could be dangerous with somebody using a mobile phone while driving?

      4. @montreal95
        Alcohol and nicotine are both drugs, alcohol is listed in the highest level of drugs. It is one of the few that kills when stopped. It’s on the same level than heroin, one of the worst among others.

        But in cigarettes, what kills is not the drug.There is a fundamental difference between addictiveness and toxicity.

        1. @spoutnik Sorry but I don’t agree with that. See my reply to @timi above. It’s clear that if we disagree on that, we’ll never agree. So I’m not going to expand, because it’s a lot of OT, which expanded too much from my original argument with @osvaldas31 above: Should alcohol ads be treated the same as tobacco and be banned completely or not. If you want to disagree with my argument(that alcohol ads should not be banned), then I’ll reply in turn

  6. Force India will not be supplying their drivers with on board drinks during races to support their ‘anti drink’ campaign.
    Insiders have also confirmed that Kimi and Nico Hülk are in talks for replacing each other during one of the testing sessions. The Force India will be, apparently running a few litres of liquor overweight, affecting overall performance.
    On a more serious note, its nice to see a midfield team attracting sponsors. The more the merrier.

  7. So, they will promote “don’t drink and drive” messages by showing Smirnoff stickers on a car? I wonder how they will pull it off.

    1. They’ll put a “Dont drink and drive” sticker on the underside of the car.

      1. @rojov123 Good advertising in the event of being Maldonadoed.

        1. LMAO!.. If only your comment would be made COTD.

        2. That would actually be brilliant.

    2. Hahaha. These comments are all brilliant.

      Maybe they are planning to hire Maldonado at some point?

  8. Oh boy did Hulkenberg choose the right team last year. Lotus is nowhere, while Force-India is on a roll having the Merc engine and an increasingly strong sponsorship package.

    1. …and better drinks to celebrate with. Probably an improvement on Sauber’s tequila last year, too!

      Car looks even better now, pleased to see the back of the nasty big Sahara logo.

  9. Beer, whisky and vodka logos on the same car. They’ll need to pixellate the whole car when we get to Abu Dhabi!

    But glad Force India have got the sponsorship to back up their good performance this season.

    1. @sharoncom They will just paint the entire car black. No one would even see them coming.

    2. It’ll be double whiskies and double vodkas at the last round.

      1. @bullfrog
        That is gold! Hah

  10. Interesting…didn’t Diageo used to sponsor Mclaren? Now they’re moving onto another Mercedes powered British based team

    1. They still do with Johnnie Walker. I found this interesting too.

    2. They are not as much “moving” as taking on what the contract for buying the majority ownership in Mallya’S BU, this deal is part of that and it will not mean any considerable extra sponsorship money flowing in.

      1. If this was taking over the contract from UBs, they would have used a drink from the UB group. Instead they are branded with the Smirnoff brand which has nothing to do with UB group and is wholly owned by Diaego. So I think this is actual sponsorship with more money flowing in rather than a replacement for any other brand. It is even more telling since the Smirnoff branding is occupying a prime spot that used to belong to Sahara. And as far as I know, there has been no change in the sponsorship contract between Sahara and FI and Sahara hasn’t defaulted on the sponsorship either. So, obviously Smirnoff seems to be bringing in quite a bit of money.

        1. It is actually a deal with Dr. Mallya. He had huge debts, with respect his floundering airline business and Force India. So Force India gets the investment, Diaego gets the ads a win-win according to me.

  11. so Kimi to FI next year? :P

  12. The branding will be used to “deliver a powerful anti-drink drive message”, said the team in a statement

    Best way not to promote drink driving? It probably isn’t by plastering an F1 car with alcohol brand stickers and then saying as an aside “you probably shouldn’t drink and drive”.

    1. Maybe we need a 1999 BAR kind of set up, with Maldonado driving a Jack Daniel’s sponsored car, while Grosjean (imagine naming him as safer driver in 2012!) is sponsored by Coca Cola Zero.

      Not telling people about alcohol or it’s effects probably won’t do much good for the awareness of drunk driving either. If they actually use Hulkenberg and Perez to promote a strong ‘don’t drink and drive’ message, it might make some sense. Otherwise, maybe not so much.

  13. The branding will be used to “deliver a powerful anti-drink drive message”

    Well, the only way I suppose they can do that is by filling the driver’s drinks bottles with Smirnoff. In which case, expect spinning Mexicans and Germans.

    1. I don’t know, as a Dutchman, I can handle Smirnoff a lot better than Tequila or Jagermeister. Then agian, neither driver seems like much of a party-goer.

      1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        1st May 2014, 15:15

        @npf1 so you don’t remember Kimi-partygoer or Sutil-partygoer.

        1. @omarr-pepper Hulkenberg looks a little more collected than Raikkonen and Sutil, Perez doesn’t seem like a man of the drink either.

          I wouldn’t call Sutil a partygoer, though!

          1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
            1st May 2014, 16:01

            oh @npf1 I didn’t understand the “neither”, I mean, I thought you were talking about all the grid. Sorry.

  14. Neil (@neilosjames)
    1st May 2014, 17:01

    They should have gone with Lotus. At least then people might associate Smirnoff and driving with constantly running off the road and crashing into people.

  15. petebaldwin (@)
    1st May 2014, 20:06

    Much prefer the sidepod now being black as opposed to orange. The car is almost completely black now – love it!

  16. Although black cars are often pretty cool, I miss the bright green and orange. I don’t mind the white being reduced this year, but it’s a shame to see a colourful car become muted.

  17. davey (@djdaveyp87)
    1st May 2014, 23:00

    What does putting a sponsorship logo on a car have anything to do with driving at all?

    Does putting a Blackberry logo on a car encourage you to use your phone and drive?

    It is put on the car to expose the viewers to the brand and increase awareness, not to encourage the person to consume/use the products whilst driving.

  18. I think, this is a good thing.

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