London, 10th February 2006 - Johnnie Walker – the world’s number one Scotch whisky and the Team McLaren Mercedes Formula One team today announce an up-weight to their existing partnering agreement for the 2006 Season.

This agreement will enable Johnnie Walker to intensify its brand building programmes and to further demonstrate its ongoing commitment to using the Team McLaren Mercedes sponsorship as a platform to promote a shared understanding of what responsible drinking means. The increased investment provides a number of additional benefits for the Johnnie Walker brand during the 2006 season; additional branding on the car and significant marketing activation opportunities including hospitality and promotional rights, access to drivers and track days which can be utilised in markets to engage consumers.

Ben Anderson, Global Brand Director, Johnnie Walker explains, “We joined Team McLaren Mercedes last July in order to use our association with this professional, precision and technology driven team to build the brand and communicate responsible drinking while simultaneously building the Johnnie Walker brand. For example in Brazil we promoted the ‘designated driver’ concept through a fully integrated programme – ‘Piloto da Vez’ which achieved over 122 million Brazilian ‘consumer impacts’ through advertising, promotion and PR activity and a dedicated website which received 170,000 hits. The three-month programme culminated in Juan Pablo Montoya becoming the ‘designated driver’ for one lucky competition winner. In China we implemented a major ‘responsible drinking’ initiative which included in-bar activities in key cities, the message ‘Take the lead, drink responsibly’ was delivered through media interviews and personal appearances. In just half a season we are already seeing the impact of this sponsorship and its associated consumer programmes and advertising.“

“Using our extensive consumer research we have strong insights into consumer attitudes towards responsible drinking and we know that linking a responsibility message to something that interests core Johnnie Walker consumers (25 – 35 years) is more likely to have a positive impact. The new agreement with Team McLaren Mercedes combined with our investment at a market level takes our global investment in this programme to more than £20 million and will enable us to deliver these messages to consumers in an even more relevant and compelling way. ”

Ron Dennis, Chairman and CEO of the McLaren Group and Team McLaren Mercedes Team Principal says, “From the outset, it has been clear that Team McLaren Mercedes and Johnnie Walker shared the same view as to how this partnership could be used for powerful effect. Johnnie Walker has proven that the relationship with Team McLaren Mercedes and the Formula One environment, and its association with control and precision, is a great asset in its responsible drinking programme. The success of the last season provided a compelling reason to further strengthen our partnership.”

Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport says: “Johnnie Walker’s extended commitment to the team following our partnership which started mid-season last year shows how successful this collaboration has been. We have strongly supported Johnnie Walker’s plan to use their involvement in the Formula One programme as a platform for responsible drinking messages as we consider this to be an important aspect of our partnership.”

Mclaren Press Release


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