Bernie Ecclestone feels Heineken’s involvement in Formula 1 will open his eyes to what is possible in the world of social media.
The brewing giant has signed a four-and-a-half-season agreement with Formula One Management, becoming a global partner, with the relationship to commence with Heineken’s sponsorship of F1’s Italian Grand Prix in September.
One of Heineken’s strengths over the years has been its promotion of the UEFA Champions League and the Rugby World Cup via digital and social media platforms, an area Ecclestone has struggled to exploit over the years.
“I’ve started to get a bit more interested [in social media] generally, even before Heineken came in,” Ecclestone said. “But they’re going to wake me up a bit with the social media because I’ve never taken a lot of notice, never believed it’s going to do the things people say it’s going to do, so we’ll wait and see. But they’ll certainly bring fresh ideas into F1.”
Ecclestone further believes Heineken will be promoting the right message in F1, not least through its responsible drinking campaign.
“We like to attract big brands, and this is one of the biggest brands there is,” said Ecclestone. “They are good for our other brands as well, so they will all help each other. We’ve had these type of companies, breweries wanting to come on board with us, and we’ve said no, but these are responsible people. They realize it’s not good drinking and driving at the same time. They’re serious about this. They’re trying to do things and make sure people don’t [drink and drive].”
There is also the possibility of the knock-on effect and that Heineken’s entrance into F1 could lead to the introduction of further mass-market brands.
“It depends who they [the potential new sponsors] are going to be,” added Ecclestone. “Just because it is a big brand doesn’t mean they are good for Formula 1, but with Heineken coming on board it gives a good message.”
DEAL COULD HELP MONZA
Heineken’s sponsorship of the Italian GP could even play a part in Monza retaining its place on the F1 calendar. This year’s event is the last of its current contract, with no new deal yet signed, despite lengthy negotiations between Ecclestone and circuit officials. Asked as to whether Heineken could help save the Monza race, Ecclestone said: “Probably going to help.
“They need a bit more help. It’s very, very, very political. It’s getting all the people who are involved to agree on something. It’s up to them to sort themselves out. They’ve got a contract, they’ve got a pen, I believe now, so we’re waiting for them to sign.”