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Volume 6 No. 262
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McLaren Formula 1 Execs Say Poor Results Will Not Permanently Harm Brand

It has "not been the best of times" for McLaren-Honda Formula 1, according to Shawn Lim of THE DRUM. However, Exec Dir Zak Brown and CMO John Allert "remained bullish" that the McLaren brand is "round the corner from gaining former sporting glory." Ever since Lewis Hamilton took home the drivers’ trophy for McLaren at the '08 Brazilian Grand Prix, "it has all gone pear shaped for the British team." Brown, who took over McLaren Technology Group Founder Ron Dennis' responsibilities as exec director at the end of '16, admitted that the team’s performance has "hurt the brand image as it is not delivering brand value, which is winning." Brown is "quick to add his belief that because McLaren has a long and illustrious history of winning, the brand has not been permanently damaged." He said, "You can market around year-by-year, up and down sporting success, not everyone always wins, but we have gone too long without our track success. I don't think there is anything you can do to market around that." He added, "We have had setbacks, all sporting teams have success and failures, which is what makes it exciting. It certainly makes it hard to bring in new partners when you are not in the middle of success, but we think that is right around the corner." Concurring with Brown, Allert explained that as a proposition, McLaren is a race team and "also much more than a race team." Allert: "We are a technology group and we have a lot of interesting partnerships, although they might touch Formula 1, actually have their bases in other technological projects or relationship. ... We are a brand that people like and respect, a brand that has technology and innovation at its heart and we have a fantastic drive lineup, and it has helped us get through these lean years." Brown revealed that since he took over, the company has "put a big focus on its commercial ways of working, made a decent amount of changes with a lot of new hires and set itself up to be a more data-driven, flexible and adaptable partner to its sponsors." He said, "So far, we have been seeing some good results." Brown, a former marketer, stressed that for an F1 team to be successful, it "needs a very successful commercial and marketing team." He said, "We are a big brand and our brand not only includes our race team and drivers, and it is up to our marketing team to continue to make sure that the image and reputation is promoted and upheld by every one of our brand ambassadors, which includes our thousands of employees" (THE DRUM, 9/21).

'PROPER DISASTER': SKY SPORTS' James Galloway reported McLaren Racing Dir Eric Boullier described McLaren's three-year marriage with Honda as a "proper disaster" for the team's credibility. The Frenchman said that the team may not fully recover its "lost prestige" until '20. Boullier said, "When you look at the last three years it's been a proper disaster for us in terms of credibility and getting new sponsors. And then you have to take the long-term view: in the next five years I am absolutely sure that we will go back to where McLaren belongs. And with this bouncing back we get our credibility back and it will rebuild our sponsor portfolio. It might take two to three years" (SKY SPORTS, 9/21).