GSK set to bail out of major F1 sponsorship

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is close to terminating the high-profile sponsorship deal between NiQuitin, its nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) product, and the BMW Williams Formula One racing team.

The deal, which was signed 18 months ago, was thought to be worth up to &£10m a year (MW April 17, 2003). GSK and Williams are still in talks but sources close to the company say that the pharmaceuticals company is planning to withdraw from the deal unless the team considerably lowers its fee.

One insider says the company believes the deal has achieved its goal by making a large public relations impact when it was launched midway through the season last year. But he says that GSK has not leveraged the sponsorship since and does not see the association as essential to its core market.

GSK’s departure would be a disappointment for the sport, which is eager to find replacement packaged goods sponsors after a European ban on tobacco brands comes into effect next summer.

A spokesman for GSK refuses to comment on the deal. Last month, GSK launched a &£4m European ad campaign under the umbrella banner “Quittin’ with NiQuitin”.

The withdrawal by GSK follows a multi- million pound deal that Williams is set to sign with the Royal Bank of Scotland as its headline sponsor. The team is competing with McLaren and BAR Honda for the deal (MW August 26).

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here