Ascot Signs Five-Year Deal To Take On Watchmaker Longines As 'Official Partner'
Royal Ascot "has finally succumbed to the lure and lucre of commercial sponsorship" and signed a deal with Swiss watchmaker Longines worth "several million pounds" over five years, according to Robert Lea of the LONDON TIMES. But "Ascot being Ascot," officials are "declining to admit that its prestigious five-day royal meeting will be sponsored," instead calling the deal the appointment of the inaugural “official partner of Royal Ascot.” The event has not gone as far as to be called the Longines Royal Ascot. Nor will Longines "get its name on any of the festival’s 30 races, which will remain unbranded." Instead, Longines "will be a highly visible Royal Ascot presence" with a giant chronometer at the winning post, recording race times and course records, and a Longines clock adorning the parade ring. Part of the Swatch group, "it will also be able to tout its Ascot relationship in its own advertising." Ascot CEO Charles Barnett said Longines will not be the only partner and over time he envisages "five or six upmarket brands willing to pay to swell the coffers of the course, which is still paying for the £210 million development of its grandstand in 2006." The potential partners will likely include a fashion retailer, "chiming with Royal Ascot’s status as a catwalk of high summer style," and premium car brands like BMW and Mercedes Benz (LONDON TIMES, 5/24).