Vodafone Dumps Ferrari for McLaren Mercedes

Vodafone Dumps Ferrari for McLaren Mercedes

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Vodafone is getting ready to slap its brand on the fuselage of a new F1 car, and it’s not going to be a Ferrari. In a deal announced Wednesday, the UK telecom giant will switch its Formula One sponsorship to McLaren Mercedes beginning in 2007.

Several factors contributed to the defection. Atop this list, Ferrari’s losing 2005 season, placing third behind Renault and McLaren – its worst finish since champion driver Schumacher joined in 1996. Vodafone’s contract with the Italians expires in 2006. Perfect timing.

The deal is unofficially estimated to be worth around $40 million and Vodafone intends on getting its money’s worth: “The new agreement delivers a fantastic marketing platform; the associative rights we acquire as a result of this sponsorship provides us with additional opportunities to continue to raise brand awareness, build brand preference and drive revenue,” says Vodafone CMO Peter Bramford.

So how does Vodafone intend on leveraging the new Vodafone McLaren Mercedes brand? 3G customers will enjoy F1 content including racing news updates, test results, team bios, games, videos, ring tones (squealing tires perhaps), wallpapers and screensavers.

Vodafone also made news recently of kicking Manchester United off the sponsorship list. Freeing up about $15.9 million per year.

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