Singha back Red Bull, but for how long?

Could alcohol sponsors face a tobacco-style ban?

Could alcohol sponsors face a tobacco-style ban?

Mixing Red Bull and beer might not sound like a good idea, but the team has joined Brawn in announcing a new alcohol sponsor.

Thai brand Singha will put its logos on Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel’s race suits and cars for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

But alcohol sponsorship deals in F1 could soon come under threat. Last week the British Medical Association called for a ban on alcohol brands sponsoring sporting events.

Could alcohol advertising soon go the same way as tobacco advertising? If it did the impact would likely not be as great – many F1 teams had tobacco brands as title sponsors in the mid-nineties, but non of them have alcohol brands as title sponsors today.

Today the only F1 team with a tobacco sponsor is Ferrari, whose official name on the FIA entry list is Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. They are responsible for the barcode design on the F60’s airbox and rear wing.

Other alcohol sponsors currently active in F1 include Johnnie Walker (McLaren), Kingfisher (Force India, also an airline brand) and Brawn’s new sponsor for the Brazilian Grand Prix, Itaipava.

Alcohol and motor racing could be seen as a particularly poor match given the strong laws against drink-driving. Johnnie Walker address this by using Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen in their campaigns against drink-driving.

Do you think alcohol sponsors should be allowed in F1?

Press release

Red Bull Racing announces Race Partner
More Singha for Suzuka

Even though we are owned by an energy drink company, we recognise the value of a good beer. Red Bull Racing is therefore pleased to announce that existing supplier, Singha Beer, the longest established beer from Thailand, is increasing its support of the team for the 2009 Japanese Grand Prix, by upgrading to ??Race Partner?.

The expanded relationship will see the Singha logo appear on the RB5 cars and on the drivers? race suits over the Grand Prix weekend at Suzuka.

Voravud Bhirombhakdi, Strategic Partnership and Event Manager of Singha Corporation and the fourth generation of the Singha family commented: “Singha Corporation has long been the biggest supporter of Thailand’s motorsport. Becoming a Race Partner with Red Bull Racing will place Singha on the international motorsport scene, which is in line with the company’s international market expansion.”

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109 comments on Singha back Red Bull, but for how long?

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  1. Yes. It takes an incredibly stupid person to see branding in F1 and think ‘I’d like to use that product while driving.’ I can’t imagine motorsport with alcohol advertising has any impact on drink-drive offences.

    • Random Chimp said on 19th September 2009, 11:07

      The argument that the alcohol industry gives for not banning their advertising is that the advertising itself doesn’t encourage people to drink more, it only effects which brands they purchase when they do drink.
      I believe that is MOSTLY the case for adults, but I also think that the psychology of advertising is considerably more complex than most people are aware of, and the effect of seeing brand names and logos of potentially harmful products everywhere on those growing up is a possible cause for concern. A large proportion of people around my age (I’ll say a few years short of twenty, and even below that) drink regularly and get themselves drunk nearly as often. I couldn’t say how much of that is down to social pressure, or if the pressure to drink is fuelled by advertising, but still I do think that advertising has a larger impact than most people here give it credit (or debit if you want) for.

  2. mp4-19b said on 18th September 2009, 12:58

    The EU senators are a bunch of hypocrites. Did the banning of tobacco advertising on f1 cars bring down cancer deaths? Or have tobacco users shied away from using it? I personally am DEAD against tobacco products, but the tobacco based livery cars were the best looking cars in history . I think EU must chuck this rule. Tobacco & F1 are synonymous.

  3. Sebastien Carter said on 18th September 2009, 13:03

    I don’t understand how Ferrari can still use Tobacco as a title sponsor. Does the law only say that you can’t have visible sponsorship?

    I suppose they are doing the same thing that Jordan did with Benzon and Hedges in the early 2000s

    • Nitpicker said on 18th September 2009, 13:13

      “Buzzing Hornets” etc.

    • mp4-19b said on 18th September 2009, 13:17

      Even I’m confused on that issue. We had so may instances where tobacco ads were replaced with some funny names. For instance

      Rothmans= ??
      West= Mika,David,Kimi,juan Pablo
      Marlboro= bar code
      Lucky Strike=Don’t Walk,Look Alike
      Benson & Hedges= Be On Edge,Buzzin Hornets
      Mild Seven= Team Spirit

      So people always associate a livery with a particular brand name. I dunno why this pseudo attitude.

      • Rothmans » Racing (on the 1996 Williams)

        West » East (on the late-80s Zakspeed)

        Benson & Hedges » Bitten & Hisses

        • Jonathan said on 18th September 2009, 15:10

          I seem to remember that tobacco branding with obvious changed wording has now been banned too, so that Team Spirit, Look Alike, Bitten & Hisses, Buzzin Hornets, Be On Edge etc. would now be illegal.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th September 2009, 16:33

            I still think the Marlboro bar code thing is pretty obvious, but then I guess I am rather over-exposed to their branding!

            By the way, does anyone know if they still sponsor Penske in Indy Cars? No logos but same colours…

          • Still looks good to me, and doesn’t make me want to start smoking…..

          • hmmmm, the link is not working.

            go to

          • Not only are they still sponsored by Philip Morris (Marlboro), but Miller beer too!!!

            Man, I really want a smoke and beer now…

          • Brendan said on 18th September 2009, 21:26

            In the early/mid-90s, Penske and McLaren were similar in a lot of ways: big sponsors (Marlboro, Hugo Boss, Mobil), the red and white livery, Mercedes/Ilmor engines, even famously meticulous and hard-nosed team principals (Roger and Ron).

            But McLaren moved on from the red-and-white livery over a decade ago, while Penske still runs it. The only Marlboro influence I can see anywhere is the white-on-red triangle on the drivers’ firesuits, same design as Schumi and Ferrari had for so many years.

            I’m not sure why PhillipMorris doesn’t have Penske run the barcode design–it’s the closest thing they have to a motorsports brand on the Ducati and Ferrari. I guess it wouldn’t look as good on the predominantly white Penske as it does on the Italian machines.

          • Martin said on 19th September 2009, 2:53

            Team Penske still runs the Marlboro livery and in this country it isnt illeagal yet for racing to have tobacco sponsors but there was some agreement that only 1 series could be the sponsored by a tobacco product so Penske got Marlboro for the us because of more exposure and when F1 came the Ferraris had to change their livery slightly, but only in that it couldnt have the name. Winston was nascar and so on.
            I dont believe it has changed yet as the cars still run the sponsors, maybe not as bold as they did.

          • Jay Menon said on 20th September 2009, 4:57

            Phillip Morris can afford to sponsor Ferrari in this manner because of the sheer recognition of the Marlboro brand. Like I always say, the two things you can find in any remote corner of the world are, Coke and Marlboros.

  4. sato113 said on 18th September 2009, 13:04

    yeah in this economic climate, f1 needs all the sponsor money it can get!

  5. Nitpicker said on 18th September 2009, 13:12

    Red Bull Racing is therefore pleased to announce that existing supplier, Singha Beer…

    Existing supplier? No wonder they have looked a bit wobbly lately.

  6. Sush Meerkat said on 18th September 2009, 13:23

    But alcohol sponsorship deals in F1 could soon come under threat. Last week the British Medical Association called for a ban on alcohol brands sponsoring sporting events.

    Sorry EU but F1 isn’t a sport, just ask India, LOOPHOLE!.

    • mp4-19b said on 18th September 2009, 13:50

      Good Spot!! F1 is “NOT at all a sport . Formula One is cheating,gambling,Lying,Spying,Sadomasochisming, Hitler praising, crashing, misleading, incriminating, intimidating, court marshaling etc etc. These are usually not the words used to describe a “SPORT”. HATS OFF TO THE INDIAN GOVT!!! They were correct all the time.

      Bring on Tobacco!!!!

  7. Joe Garnett said on 18th September 2009, 13:59

    Motorsport in itself is dangerous. So why start banning everything?!

    I banged my knee on my desk. So Ikea should be banned.

  8. @ joe garnett lol good one

    if this is the case Santander should be banned for losing money and making the recession worse same goes for the RBS its safer to put your money in your pillow.

    This is a mans sport not some kids sport like football lol where is all the cool stuff going in our sport? soon it will be as boring as watching golf. F1 used to be so cool from the 50s to the 80s with all the cars, women and alcohol what is happening because this is not what the fans love as a motorsport. Formula 1 isnt a sport ITS LIFE!!!!!!!!!

    • his_majesty said on 18th September 2009, 21:51

      F1 is my religion, all my neighbors go to church, I go to my 47 inch tv that I bought just to watch the great unsport of f1. Anyways my thoughts, if you’ve got the money and you want it on a car we aren’t commies we are “free” aren’t we lets friggn’ act like it. Governments are too conrolling anymore, it’s just utterly rediculus. I’d be a mountain man living in alaska with no retarded rules if it weren’t for my f1 fix that i need.

  9. I remember in the early days of the Red Bull F1 team reading a report which speculated an ideal sponsor would be a Vodka company because of the drink combination vodbull, but Red Bull dismissed this because they didn’t endorse vodbull and saw Red Bull as an energy drink only.

    Brand association is important to sponsors, such as who are the other sponsors of a team etc. If you look at the adverts where Vodafone and Santander use their F1 sponsorship with McLaren they don’t allow Johnnie Walker to be shown but they seem okay with the other sponsors, for example at the top of Hamilton’s visor on his helmet it should say Johnnie Walker but on the recent Santander scalextric style TV advert here in the UK there is just a blank black space instead.

  10. I have watched F1 since I was 10 years old in 1996. Since seeing Damon Hill win the world title I smoked 20 packs a day, first Rothmans then Benson & Hedges. With the success of Michael Schumacher I then became hooked on Malboros. The second these were banned I stopped smoking and have never wanted to smoke since. Unfortunately, I am now a raging alcoholic. Lewis Hamilton winning the title in 2008 sent me over the edge. Please save me, EU! And whilst you’re at it, ban mobile phone sponsorship as I am cognitively incapable of changing from my Vodafone contract which is a pile of rubbish.

  11. Alcohol shouldn’t advertise anything. People don’t need any encouragement to drink

    • Bigbadderboom said on 18th September 2009, 16:35

      Agreed, any branding which makes us more insensitive to it and normalises substance abuse, should be outlawed. Its quite fantastic the subliminal strength of this type of product placement, which is why the brands are so willing to invest in it. I hate the thought of a nanny state but sometimes we do need protecting, especially when we are unaware of whats going on.

      • You know what? If I see and advertisment for a drink I have never had before, I won’t go out buy and jump in my car or become an alchoholic. I will buy it and drink it yes, but that is it. That is all the ad companies want you to do. All they have to do is get each person to buy it once and they have made millions.
        If someone becomes an alchoholic, it isn’t because of an ad. People become alchoholics because they see people drinking.
        Alchohol ads don’t target alchoholics, they target the casual drinker.
        If someone doesn’t want to smoke or drink, an ad won’t make them start.

      • Martin said on 19th September 2009, 2:59

        Your not serious are you? Do you really think that people are that easily swayed into a life of misery by seeing sponsorship on a car? Or are you just another one of those that think we must protect the world from itself?
        Get real, life is tough, wear a helmet.

  12. I don’t think alcohol sponsoring should be banned. I do think it is good attention is giving to educate about proper use, and the dangers of abuse, and that drinking and driving is a no-no. What about other sponsors? Investment banks ban because their investment options might be risky leading to financially ruined people? Pharmaceutical companies because prescription drugs can be abused?

    Yes, F1 cars with tobacco sponsors looked soooo cool, but that is exactly the problem. They created this image of smoking=cool, which is why I think the ban on tobacco advertisement is good, you don’t want the coolest racing cars supporting this fiction. Nobody will stop smoking from the ban, but at least young (stupid) impressionable people might lose the idea someday that smoking is cool. If you want to smoke, fine, your choice, don’t do it around me, and instead of making you cool know it makes you stink and look like a sad addict standing on the street next to the door laying a smokescreen.

  13. @Nik – I guess you also have your life savings in an ING account, are constantly twitchy because of all the Red Bull you drink, and have to put up with the misery of working out in a Virgin gym… :)

    • Martin said on 19th September 2009, 3:02

      Good point, come to think of it I dont use the products or services from at least 99% of the sposors in F1, so they have wasted their money on me.
      All sponsors should leave f1 now because I am not utilizing their wares.

  14. @Bart – agree entirely.

    I’m a smoker, but the idea of encouraging impressionable (young) people to start is abhorrant. I guess I’m going to have to knock it on the head at some point in the near future anyway…

    Alcohol sponsorship, although a strange combination, is okay in my view.

    What industry other than tobacco has the financial clout to be F1 sponsors?

    Also, due to their forever diminishing customer base and the increase in anti-smoking legislation, tobacco companies would never want their drivers to advocate giving up smoking. But the alcohol brands will actively push the drivers to get involved in anti drink-driving campaigns.

    (I’ll have a Bacardi and Michael Schumacher please barman…)

    If a delicate balance can be maintained, such as “drink our products, but get a cab home”, I think it can work.

    Besides, racing on Forza Motorsport with a few beers is the best fun ever…

    I’m off for a fag…

  15. Jonathan said on 18th September 2009, 15:20

    Who would seriously take up smoking or start drinking irresponsibly because of an F1 livery?

    The BMA thinks we’re robots programmed by the advertising industry. No one has told them that ordinary people are capable of controlling themselves and making their own decisions.

    • Tiomkin said on 18th September 2009, 16:08

      When I was at school, (many years ago) kids who smoked chose the gold B&H brand because of the cool surreal adverts. Advertising works otherwise nobody would spend millions on promoting their brands.

      As for booze, I don’t want to see a ban on advertising. Fags and booze are two very different things.

      • mp4-19b said on 18th September 2009, 16:26

        No, they are not. Fag causes lung cancer & booze causes liver cancer.

        • Tiomkin said on 18th September 2009, 17:02

          One is a liquid, the other is a gas. Two very different things. At least on this planet.

          • Mark Hitchcock said on 18th September 2009, 17:42

            Tiomkin, they may be two different products but the reason for banning them is the same.
            They’re both incredibly bad for your health.

          • his_majesty said on 18th September 2009, 22:05

            To mark hitchcock, isn’t a drink a day good for your heart? If they want to get rid of alcohol the podium ceremonies will be boring, well more boring.

          • you could argue, though, that there is no safe level of tobacco consumption, but there is evidence that there is a level of safe alcohol consumption and in some cases, it can be good for you (although not all alcohol products are the same eg. Merlot vs. Vodka, and yes there is contradictory evidence on the exact health benefits/damage of alcohol consumption).
            But there is a shift away from the responsibility of the individual, and action and consequences, to legislation from states. To What level should this be taken? There is no doubt that advertising is the attempt to manipulate peoples purchasing and hence consumption patterns, but if there is also widespread public education, starting in schools, then surely the responsibility can be put back onto the individual. As long as the companies are made to pay for this education.

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