Diageo strikes F1 deal with McLaren

Diageo is preparing to sign a multi-million pound headline sponsorship deal between its Johnnie Walker whisky brand and the McLaren Mercedes Formula One racing team.

The news comes as Imperial Tobacco plans to withdraw its West brand sponsorship from the team next summer as a result of tobacco sponsorship restrictions that come into force in Europe.

Diageo has been in talks with McLaren, as well as rival BAR Racing, since the summer about a potential deal. Sources say the company has decided that McLaren provides the best deal as the team is understood to be offering to change its car colours to fit the Johnnie Walker branding after West exits from the deal.

A Diageo spokeswoman says that the company does not comment on industry speculation. She adds that all negotiations are confidential.

Other industry sources say the company sees the sport as a useful marketing tool in key regions such as China, which hosted a grand prix for the first time this year.

The viewing figures for Formula One in 2004 have not shown much improvement. According to figures released this week from media agency Initiative Media, average television audiences per race declined by six per cent in 2004, although total audience numbers rose six per cent as two extra races were added to the calendar. The new Chinese Grand Prix was the second-least popular of the season, with just 32 million global viewers.

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 customerservices@marketingweek.com

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