It is the first time that Infiniti is signing on to a global sponsorship of any kind, previously preferring regional tie-ins in sports such as tennis and sailing. But as the Japanese brand looks to expand globally, says global marketing marketing communications chief Simon Sproule, an expanding F1 series looks like a logical partner to the company.
"Infiniti has launched in Europe and is going into Russia, India and China, just as F1 has done, so it's a good fit for us," says Sproule.
The association with Red Bull, says Sproule, sprung from Red Bull's use of Renault engines. Renault and Nissan are global alliance partners, with the French automaker holding a controlling stake in Nissan. CEO Carlos Ghosn is at the top of both automakers. The Renault engines may even be rebranded "Infiniti." Red Bull, of course, won the championship title in Formula One last year. "It's also good to be with a winner, of course," said Sproule.
Infiniti had a good year in the U.S. last year. Sales were up 27% to crest the 103,000 level. But Nissan is looking for Infiniti to be a bigger player in luxury circles worldwide. F1 attracts a good amount of luxury car buyers worldwide, and is catching on in important markets for luxury brands like China and Russia.
Red Bull, says Sproule, has a broad appeal as the biggest energy drink brand in the world. The Austrian beverage company has associated its brand with numerous extreme sports, as well as owning the New York Red Bulls Major League Soccer team. It also has great crossover appeal between rich luxury car buyers, as well as young luxury car aspirers who don't yet have the incomes to afford big sticker prices.
Infiniti, the global luxury automotive brand from Japan, announced today a marketing agreement with Formula One World Champions, Red Bull RacingRenault, covering the 2011 and 2012 F1 seasons. Leveraging the co-operative power of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, a unique triumvirate has been created with Red Bull Racing, focused on high-profile marketing and technical activities around Formula One.
As part of the agreement, Infiniti will have a high-profile branding presence on the racing car, drivers clothing and related team uniforms and equipment. In addition to the branding and marketing relationship, Infiniti will work with Renault to forge future technical collaboration with Red Bull Racing. The Red Bull Racing team will continue to utilise the Renault F1 engines in 2011 and 2012 that powered them to their maiden Formula One World Championships last season.
Commenting on this historic announcement for Infiniti, Andy Palmer, Senior Vice President, Infiniti said: "Over the mid-term, Infiniti will be simultaneously expanding its global presence and broadening its product range. Given these twin ambitions, it is clear that Formula One offers us an unrivalled global communications platform, complementing Infiniti's ethos of Inspired Performance. We are excited to have the opportunity to enter Formula One together with a world-class team like Red Bull Racing Renault."
Red Bull Racing's Team Principal Christian Horner, who was instrumental in pulling the agreement together, said: "Red Bull has always taken a different approach, so when the Infiniti executives outlined their innovative plan to us we were very open to working with them. Coming off the back of our 2010 Drivers' and Constructors' World Championships, we feel even more excited to be starting the 2011 season with a new and committed partner like Infiniti."
Bernard Rey, President of Renault Sport F1 further endorsed the new deal: "While Renault is rightfully very proud of our achievements within Formula One, we know the future is about collaboration. To have a talented and committed Alliance partner like Infiniti is very welcome as we set out on the current and future challenges in Formula One. So it is with great pleasure that I would like to welcome Andy Palmer and his entire team in our Formula One adventure, and I look forward to starting the 2011 season together as Alliance partners."
Infiniti, the luxury automotive brand from Japan, reflects its brand promise "Inspired Performance" with a model line-up of sedans, coupés, SUVs and crossovers featuring exhilarating performance, emotive design and cutting edge technology. Infiniti continues to launch across the globe through a dedicated network of Infiniti Centres that share a commitment to exceptional hospitality throughout the entire period of ownership. For more information, see www.infiniti.com
About Renault Sport F1
Renault Sport F1 is the motorsport department responsible for Renault's F1 activities. Renault Sport F1 has multiple roles, as engine conceptor, technology and business-to-business opportunities supplier for three F1 teams this season. The main thrust of its work takes place at Viry-Châtillon, traditionally the technical hub of Renault's F1 activities: engines have been conceived, developed, and tested here for more than 30 years.