Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Dollars and Sense Game

CONTRACT details surrounding title sponsorships of Formula 1 races around the world are shrouded in secrecy.
Formula One Management, with the experienced Bernie Ecclestone at the helm, are notorious for insisting on confidentiality over business deals.
With a number of reports suggesting Spain's Santander — a leading financial group in Europe — paid £6 million ($16.1 million) for title sponsorship to this year's British Grand Prix, and Petronas coughing up US$8 million ($10.8 million) a year for a similar deal for the Malaysian Grand Prix, SingTel's deal for the naming rights to this year's inaugural Singapore Grand Prix on Sept 28 is unlikely to have come cheap.
While there is no doubt the country's biggest telco feel a sense of pride at sponsoring arguably Singapore's most prestigious global sports event to date, SingTel insist it's not about national service, but dollars and sense.
At a press conference held at company headquarters at Comcentre yesterday evening, SingTel CEO (Singapore) Allen Lew said the deal was a business proposition that was in line with the corporate objectives of the group.
"SingTel is a public-listed company and everything we do here has a business rationale behind it," said Lew.
."We look at this sponsorship long and hard, bearing in mind that SingTel's goal is to be a multi-national operator at the group level and this makes a lot of sense to us.
"And looking at this from the business perspective, we feel this sponsorship will bring benefits to SingTel not only in Singapore but across the countries we operate in."
There is great anticipation within the Formula 1 fraternity worldwide about the 2008 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix, which will be the sport's first race to be held at night, with cars zipping along a 5.01km street circuit in the heart of the city.
The race is expected to attract a global audience of more than 300 million, and 40,000 fans from all over the world are expected to descend on Singapore for the weekend's activities. Spectator turnout on race day itself is expected to hit 100,000.
SingTel expect their profile to be boosted in countries in the Asia Pacific where they invest and operate in, and also in the 19 countries where they have global offices, including the United States and Europe.
"The fact that the race will be telecast in a large number of homes in these countries will provide greater awareness of SingTel when we are approaching some of the businesses in those countries," said Lew. "In this sense we see that the sponsorship makes business sense to us."
When the roar of the engines dies down after the Sept 28 race, SingTel would take a hard-nosed approach in assessing the benefits of their investment in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, he said.
Lew was speaking at the launch of the company's range of Formula 1 activities for the upcoming race, which will be free for all Singaporeans.
It includes a state-of-the-art racing simulator which will go on a roadshow around the country, predicting the qualifying and race winners of every race from the Turkish Grand Prix onwards (May 11).
There will also be a competition involving 48 SingTel Grid Girls, who will vie for a grand cash prize as well as the honour of leading the troupe out to the starting line on race day.
"As the leading telco in the country, we feel it is our responsibility to bring Formula 1 to the masses so that the average person in Singapore doesn't feel that Formula 1 is an elitist sport," said Lew.
"The way we are going to do this is to use the technology that made us the leader of telecommunications here to break the perception that Formula 1 is an elitist sport and make it relevant to the masses."
Visit for information on all race-related activities, including free software of the Singapore street circuit Ian De

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