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Volume 10 No. 22

Marketing and Sponsorship

Barcelona's main jersey sponsor Qatar Foundation will be replaced by Qatar Airways starting next season, according to Angel Serrano of MUNDO DEPORTIVO. Qatar Sports Investments, which pays Barça €30M ($38.2M) annually to be its main sponsor, has decided to switch the Qatar Foundation for the airline company. The Catalan club had the right to veto the possibility, but opted against it "as it would not be prudent to create tensions with a sponsor that generates so much revenue." The switch will mark the first time in the club's history that a commercial brand has made its way on the first team's jersey. Kit provider Nike "has been informed of the decision" and is designing the new logo, which will be white in color (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 11/16). EXPANSION wrote that with the switch, the rivalry between Barça and Real Madrid "will translate into the aviation world." Next season, Barcelona will have Qatar Airways as its main jersey sponsor while Madrid will be sponsored by Emirates (EXPANSION, 11/16). LE PARISIEN wrote that Barcelona "had always refused" to allow any commercial sponsor to make its way on its jersey or shorts. But "the hard economic times" of the last couple years have affected even the best European team (LE PARISIEN, 11/16).

Coca-Cola is "evaluating" a sponsorship of F1 but "suggests that it is not likely to involve its flagship brand," according to PIT PASS. Coca-Cola Head of Global Sports and Entertainment Marketing Emmanuel Seuge "had been researching F1, as well as the drink's sponsorships in the past." Coca-Cola Global Partnerships and Experiential Marketing VP Scott McCune said, "Both I, personally, and the company have great respect for [F1 CEO] Bernie Ecclestone and Formula One and what they have done." He added: "They have built a phenomenal platform, and you can see its popularity. We look at that and see if there is a brand fit for us. We are evaluating that right now" (PIT PASS, 11/15). PIT PASS also reported in '05 Coca-Cola was in talks with Ecclestone about "becoming title sponsor of the sport, but in the end he decided that associating it so closely with any single company could damage relationships with other brands." Ecclestone said, "I wouldn't do that because it would destabilise everybody. It would certainly stop all the promoters or us doing their own race title sponsorships." He added, "Somebody would probably do it if I wasn't around." At one stage it was thought that "Coca-Cola may be considering taking title sponsorship of either the U.S. Grand Prix or the planned race in New Jersey." Coca-Cola is also understood to "have come close to doing a deal with the Renault F1 team, but it too never got off the grid though for a very different reason" (PIT PASS, 11/15).

FINDING THE RIGHT FIT: MOTORSPORT TOTAL's Christian Nimmervoll reported that F1 "is not a natural fit for Coca-Cola, that is why it will most-likely use another brand if it goes through with its sponsorship plan." McCune said, "We have other brands we are looking at." One of those brands could be energy drink Relentless in order to compete with Red Bull and Monster. However, the Coca-Cola company consists of more than 500 individual brands in more than 200 countries worldwide (MOTORSPORT TOTAL, 11/16).