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Volume 6 No. 212

Marketing and Sponsorship

Luxury car maker Infiniti has signed F1 driver Sebastian Vettel "as its director of performance," according to Alex Brownsell of MARKETING MAGAZINE. Vettel "made the headlines this week after disobeying team instructions by overtaking fellow Infiniti Red Bull Racing driver Mark Webber to win the Malaysian Grand Prix." Amid "calls for the German driver to be banned by his team," Infiniti has chosen to unveil Vettel as its first director of performance at the N.Y. Int'l Auto Show. Vettel "will work with the Nissan-owned marque to develop its vehicle line-up." Infiniti "has previously collaborated with the driver for its FX Vettel Edition and newly-launched Q50 models" (MARKETING MAGAZINE, 3/28). MOTOR AUTHORITY's Viknesh Vijayenthiran reported Vettel "had been central to the development of the new Q50 from its early stages." He spent time with Infiniti engineers in Japan, "providing them with his chassis dynamics, performance and handling feedback" (MOTOR AUTHORITY, 3/28).

Scottish Premier League club Heart of Midlothian has extended its shirt sponsorship deal with British loan company Wonga through the '13-14 season. Wonga has been the club's shirt sponsor since '11 (Heart of Midlothian). The SCOTSMAN reported the sponsorship is "thought to be worth a seven-figure annual sum." Hearts Commercial Dir Vitalijus Vasiliauskas said, "The partnership has been a great success. Wonga has been the most engaged and involved sponsor the club has had and I'm sure supporters have seen that" (SCOTSMAN, 3/28).

Russian sports car manufacturer Marussia hopes to take advantage of Russia's growing interest in F1 and boost its "tight budget" after signing a sponsorship deal with a Russian betting company on Thursday, according to Gennady Fyodorov of REUTERS. Team CEO Andy Webb did not reveal the financial details of the one-year deal with Liga Stavok (Betting League), but saw it "as just the start of many good things to come." The deal had been announced before the Australian season-opener on March 17 and Liga Stavok has its branding on the MR02 car "as well as team and driver apparel." Webb said, "It is a critical time for Marussia so any sponsor is good news but adding a Russian company is a much more significant factor for us than any amount of money it could bring." Marussia has already announced an agreement with another Russian partner, currency brokerage InstaForex, who became "an official supplier and had branding on the car at last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix." Webb: "Right now Russia's interest into Formula One is very low, but it will undoubtedly grow bigger and bigger" (REUTERS, 3/28).

ME Bank announced a new partnership with Football Federation Australia. ME Bank has entered into a three-year sponsorship deal with FFA to become the official banking partner of the Hyundai A-League and the official banking partner of FFA’s Grassroots Football Program. FFA, in collaboration with ME Bank and its agency Twenty3 Sport + Entertainment, have created a new annual award -- the ME Bank Green Card for Fairer Play -- which is designed to recognize and reward acts of Fairer Play within the Hyundai A-League community, both on and off the field (ME Bank). ... Brazilian stock car series and former Ferrari F1 driver Rubens Barrichelo has agreed to a contract with marketing agency 9ine (MAQUINA DO ESPORTE, 3/27). ... World Archery announced a new sponsorship with FILA for four years. The agreement was signed in Seoul and will provide WA judges, officials and staff with official FILA clothing (WA).