The thorny issue of social responsibility has seen two of the largest drinks companies in the UK take opposing views over motorsport sponsorship.
Global drinks company Diageo announced earlier this year that it had struck a deal, commencing in August, for its Johnnie Walker brand to sponsor Formula 1 racing team McLaren.
Diageo will pay up to £15m a year for three years to put its Johnnie Walker ‘striding man’ logo on McLaren cars and uniforms. It comes at a time when the future of alcohol sponsorship of sport is under question following an EU ban on tobacco sports sponsorship from August.
At a media briefing last week
to discuss the progress of the newly created Diageo Europe, the company stressed it would use the sponsorship to promote responsible drinking messages through F1 McLaren drivers, which include Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya. Andrew Morgan, president of Diageo Europe, said: “We will use this platform to promote responsible drinking with an anti drink-driving message.”
Meanwhile, another major drinks company, Allied Domecq, has announced in its annual Marketing Review Board report that it is refraining from motorsport sponsorship and will not be renewing its sponsorship of the Beefeater Jet Ski competition.
The board recommended that the company did not sponsor motorsports on the basis that alcohol and driving do not mix. It also noted Allied should not be sponsoring jet skiing as it is “a potentially dangerous activity”.
Stephen Whitehead, Allied’s group director of corporate affairs, said the decision was not related to speculation that the government could ban alcohol sponsorship of sport, but the company was monitoring events.
Sonya Hook