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What lies behind McLaren's 'principal partner' strategy

Zak Brown and McLaren are currently in pursuit of a 'principal partner', which in a way differs from the canonical 'main sponsor' role.

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What lies behind McLaren's 'principal partner' strategy
Fuente imagen: McLaren

At the end of 2017 the McLaren race car went down in history for being lackluster, in terms of sponsors and performance as well. This year, on the contrary, it is safe to undo the ‘lacking sponsors’ bit, since we have witnessed a significant improvement on the commercial side, as Zak Brown had anticipated. The American CEO has explained what McLaren’s ultimate target is, as he delves into the ‘principal partner’ concept.

Over the last year, McLaren has been able to gather over 10 new partners in its tally and has managed to attract Coca-Cola for a special 3-race sponsorship in late 2018, which could possibly be the prelude to a greater commitment. "We have made good progress this year. – he said- We have hit our anticipated revenue numbers. Like our on-track road to recovery [programme], we have the same kind of road to recovery on our corporate partners. I think we brought in more new partners than any other racing team or the series this past year. They were great brands, long-term relationships: Dell Technologies, Petrobras, FX Pro etc. I would anticipate having the level and amount of new partners joining us in 2019."

McLaren has been devoid of a title sponsor for a little over four years, while Zak Brown’s interests shifted from desperately seeking a main sponsorship deal to looking for as many commercial alliances as possible. The focus does no longer lie on creating an iconic marketing campaign between McLaren and a high-profile company. In fact, the Woking-based firm ought to cover a prominent role over its partner, starting from the name, which is bound to remain unaltered. Unlike Mercedes AMG Petronas or Aston Martin Red Bull, McLaren will not carry its principal partner’s name. The legacy and the power that McLaren yields on the F1 scene made the brand strong enough not to need an aligned ally.

"We are not actively trying to find a title partner, we’re actively trying to find what we call a principal partner. What that means is a title sponsor as you would know it from visibility on the car standpoint, of course you would want that level of partner.”

"But unless it is exactly the right partnership we aren’t actively trying to bring any other brand alongside our brand. Because I think ultimately we are McLaren, we remain McLaren and not change our name as I think any great brand would not want to change their name. So it’d have to be the right partnership.”

A sizeable performance leap would certainly benefit McLaren on the short as well as on the long term. More on-track achievements will build a significant amount of credibility, both as a racing team and as a brand, which would ultimately have a stream of marketing opportunities flowing.

"[I’m] comfortable with where we are commercially and of course I think the more on-track success we have will be making it easier to accelerate our corporate recruitment programme."


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