Le cercle vertueux du sponsoring : le cas Mercedes-Benz en Formule 1

C’est à travers le prisme du sponsoring que nous allons revenir sur l’ascension de Mercedes-Benz vers les sommets de la F1. En effet, un parallèle semble se dessiner entre cette ascension sportive et la venue progressive de sponsors.

mercedes benz formule 1

LA CONSTRUCTION

ll aura donc fallu attendre fin 2009 pour assister à la renaissance de Mercedes-Benz, cette marque emblématique en tant qu’équipe de Formule 1, avec un duo 100 % allemand et 100 % inédit : le septuple champion du monde Michael Schumacher et Nico Rosberg. Après les présentations en grande pompe, il s’ensuivit les critiques, les doutes, les scepticismes, les espoirs des uns et les moqueries des autres eu égard au budget XXL de l’écurie de Brackley, qui ne fut que la 4ème force du plateau en 2010. C’est l’année où les bases furent posées, avec de solides appuis comme la banque suisse UBS, la compagnie pétrolière malaysienne Petronas ou encore Monster Energy. Visible sur les équipements de sécurité comme le HANS et à travers des campagnes pour la sécurité routière, l’assureur allemand Allianz arrive l’année suivante et sera rejoint en 2012 par Puma qui fournira les combinaisons des pilotes et des mécaniciens.

mercedes benz sponsor list
Bâtir un succès et construire un plan de long terme, c’est connaître, forcément, à un moment donné, une certaine instabilité. C’est aussi savoir anticiper et faire les bons changements au bon moment. Ainsi, en 2013, exit les Norbert Haug et Ross Brawn. Place aux Toto Wolff, Paddy Lowe, Aldo Costa, Bob Bell, le tout sous l’oeil du nouveau président non-exécutif, un certain Niki Lauda, qui jouera un rôle décisif dans l’arrivée de Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes-Benz terminera vice-championne, derrière Red Bull. Si 2013 restera la saison du tournant managérial et sportif, c’est aussi le cas sur le plan des partenariats… d’autant plus qu’il a fallu augmenter le budget pour l’arrivée de Lewis Hamilton, qui, en bon technophile qu’il est, aura certainement apprécié la venue du canadien BlackBerry : « La technologie de précision, le design et l’innovation sont trois valeurs qui reflètent l’approche et la création de BlackBerry » (…) L’idée étant de « donner une valeur à travers la collaboration technique et marketing » déclarait le directeur marketing de BlackBerry Frank Boulben… Il faut aussi noter la signature de l’horloger de luxe helvétique IWC Schaffhausen, rejoint par son compatriote Swissquote Bank en 2014, dont le logo est visible sur l’aileron avant et arrière de la W05-Hybrid et des rumeurs annoncent l’arrivée d’Hugo Boss, ancien partenaire de… McLaren-Mercedes.

F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain

LA CONSECRATION

Au-delà d’une augmentation des ventes, les sponsors cherchent avant tout à doper leur notoriété et développer leur attractivité auprès du grand public. Et quelle meilleure vitrine que l’équipe qui gagne et qui nous fait rêver… Du rêve ils nous en ont donné, dans la nuit de Bahrein, le 6 avril dernier, avec cette sensation de vivre un grand moment de F1, un instant rare : Deux flèches d’argent croisant le fer, deux étoiles scintillantes, se doublant et se dédoublant à plus de 300 Km/h, sans se toucher, et en apparaissant comme intouchables pour la concurrence.
N’oublions pas qu’il est tout de même question d’image de marque et de prestige pour les flèches d’argent. Dieter Zietsche, le CEO du Groupe Daimler, voulait que son écurie, Mercedes-Benz, devienne la « Mannschaft » de la Formule 1. Mais quel autre objectif que la victoire pouvait avoir une équipe comme Mercedes, au vu de son histoire, de son ADN et de son poids économique ? Bien sur, les sceptiques, et ils n’avaient pas tort, ressortaient les exemples de BMW, Toyota et de Honda qui ont échoué en tant qu’écurie de Formule 1. En tous cas, à mi-saison, la domination des Mercedes-Benz apparaît comme totale… 2014 ne serait alors que la suite logique de cette aventure lancée fin 2009 ? La question est posée.

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