Close Menu

Diageo defends F1 sponsorship deals

Diageo’s global head of premium core spirits has defended the firm’s sponsorship of Formula One in light of pressure from Eurocare to prohibit alcohol companies sponsoring the sport.

Alcohol companies have come under fire for sponsoring Formula One racing

One of F1’s largest sponsors, Diageo sponsors both Maclaren and Force India through its Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff Vodka brands.

However, Eurocare (European Alcohol Policy Alliance) wrote to the FIA president Jean Todt earlier this year urging the group to ban alcohol promotion as it encourages drink driving, also claiming the sponsorship goes against EU regulations, which limit alcohol advertising.

“It runs against the EU Directive which states that marketing for the consumption of alcohol should not be linked to driving,” it read. “Moreover, the current association between alcohol and driving does not seem to fall in the category of ‘the widespread promotion of responsible drinking messages’, part of the mission supported by the alcohol industry itself.”

Now in response, David Gates, Diageo’s global head of premium core spirits, defended the group’s marketing efforts explaining that its “don’t drink and drive” message reached more than “half a billion” people through the F1 deal.

“We’ve been involved in F1 for over a decade, and in that time responsible drinking has been at the heart of our campaign,” Gates told Press Association Sport. “Through our campaigns we reckon we’ve reached over half a billion people with the ‘never drink and drive’ message.

“We’ve had one and a half million people sign to pledge to never drink and drive, and we’ve ambition to take that on to five million.

“From our perspective, we’re seeing our association with the sport as an extraordinary opportunity to help influence both attitudes and behaviour to have less people – ideally no people – drink and drive.”

Last week, F1 stars Jenson Button, Mika Häkkinen and Kevin Magnussen headed to Edinburgh to support Diageo’s Never Drink and Drive Christmas campaign.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No