Among the headline speeches at next month's inaugural Motor Sport Business Forum North America is one which may seem unusual but is likely to be one of the most relevant and productive of the entire event...
It hardly needs saying that there has been a downturn in sponsorship over the past year. Speaking to The Paddock in August Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone put it bluntly when he said “In every sport all I read about is what a bomb it’s been this year.” Clearly the sponsorship acquisition strategies of any company which has managed to gain partners over the past 12 months should be scrutinised by F1's bosses, particularly if those sponsors include financial services firms and brands which F1 itself has lost. Then imagine if this company was operating in a sector F1 will be moving into over the next year.
Now for the big shock: this isn’t a hypothetical company although it is famed for its magic. The business in question is Disney and Lawrence Aldridge, its Senior Vice President of Corporate Alliances, will be speaking at December’s Motor Sport Business Forum North America. It is reason enough to attend the US event rather than the show in Monaco which takes place at the same time.
Disney isn't renowned for its sponsorship portfolio and there is good reason for this. The company’s partners, ranging from Hewlett-Packard and Siemens to Nestlé and Coca-Cola, get almost subliminal exposure across all of Disney's divisions. Some partners work with Disney to design and brand theme park attractions while others opt for product placement in shows on its ABC television network or even branding at premières of movies made by its Miramax studio.