Honda Racing signing will drive F1 ‘a step forward’

Honda’s decision to hire Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment to handle the global marketing activity for its Formula One team is a major step forward for the sport, according to a leading sports marketer.

Global practice leader for Formula One at sports marketing agency PRISM Andrew Philpott says sports marketers have long argued that the teams should hire professionals to handle their brands.

He says: “This is a positive step for Formula One. We have been one of the prime advocates of trying to persuade the F1 teams to do something different and focus on activities away from the track, thereby broadening the appeal of F1.

He adds: “Honda Racing’s long-term commitment to this approach is also laudable as it will allow them to focus on the racing from here on out.”

Philpott’s comments follow last week’s announcement of the tie up between the Honda Racing F1 team and 19 Entertainment – the company responsible for the hit show Pop Idol.

The move marks the first time that an F1 outfit has hired an entertainment company to handle its marketing, and while it remains unclear exactly what Fuller has planned for the team.

Honda bought the team in 2005 and has since signed leading drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, who will be team-mates for the 2006 season, which starts in Bahrain in March.

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