The race is on to find BAR Honda’s new lead sponsor

Formula One team BAR is looking for a new headline sponsor after founding owner British American Tobacco (BAT) sold its 55 per cent stake to Honda.

The Japanese car manufacturer previously owned 45 per cent of the team but will take full control from the end of the year following the introduction of a European ban on tobacco advertising in August.

BAR Honda – then British American Racing – was established by BAT in 1997 and its Lucky Strike brand is the team’s headline sponsor.

The company says it intends to continue the sponsorship until the end of next season but adds that it will step aside if Honda finds a partner that wants to sign a deal immediately.

It is thought Honda will change the name of the team to include the new sponsor, which will have to pay tens of millions of pounds to secure a deal.

It was reported at the weekend that Coca-Cola plans to become a major force in Formula One. Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One racing supremo, confirmed the company’s interest, although talks are thought to be at an early stage.

Coca-Cola could become a title sponsor for about &£30m but would have to pay more than &£100m to bid for a team. It is believed that BAR spent about &£150m setting up its team in 1997. Hollywood Bowl, the chain of ten-pin bowling centres, has appointed John Ayling & Associates to its &£1m media planning and buying business.

Hollywood Bowl, owned by leisure company Mitchells & Butlers, runs 24 bowling centres around the country.

The appointment consolidates the planning and buying accounts, which were previously held by two different agencies. Media Shop looked after buying and Elvis, an offshoot of Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy (MCBD), handled the planning brief.

Elvis will continue to handle the advertising business for the bowling centres, and work has begun on a new campaign that will concentrate on radio and press. The MCBD agency has held the creative brief since it was set up in 2003, when it won the account from Triangle.

The chain’s most recent campaign featured famous Hollywood movie quotes set alongside bowling imagery.

The company went into receivership in the mid-1990s but was purchased by brewer Bass in 1995 and was subsequently rebranded. Bass went on to become part of Mitchells & Butlers in 2000.

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