The thing with F1 advertising is that while they do want to gain some market share by advertising, the main goal here is usually brand recognition. If you remember the FIA/F1 Racing surveys of previous years, there’s always a section asking us which brands we recognize as F1 sponsors. We may not necessarily buy into the brand right away, but they want us (as well as casual fans) to recognize it, so that when the time comes, we buy their brand. Not because it’s an F1 sponsor per se, but because we remember it.
Cases in point:
1. Puma – Before really getting into sponsoring F1 teams, Puma wasn’t really so much of a huge brand. It was very large and sizable, yes, but it wasn’t really so popular. By getting into merch deals with F1 and football teams, they’ve built a significant brand recognition which means people will at least wander over to their shops if they want clothes or footwear. Not everyone who goes there will buy, but some would, and that in itself is already a gain.
2. Mild Seven – Before sponsoring Benetton and Tyrrell in 1994, Mild Seven had very little recognition or recall outside its native Japan. But by becoming associated with Michael Schumacher’s championships, Mild Seven suddenly became a familiar name in Europe, and that would’ve sold a healthy bunch of cigarettes.
As for me personally, other than Ferrari or Mercedes merch, I rarely make decisions because of who is or isn’t in F1. But I do have a Lenovo (Williams) laptop running on Intel (ex-BMW) instead of that epic-looking but mediocre-spec Ferrari Acer laptop. I also have some gadgets from HP (ex-Williams, now Renault) and a Canon (ex-Williams, ex-Brawn) camera.