In Sport Sponsorship

History has it that the world of motor racing has little to do with some product categories. If we made a list of such products, soaps and detergents would definitely be on top of it. My feeling is that this is a great chance missed: putting together MotoGP and household products, for instance, may offer the opportunity to start significant sports marketing programs.

This is true for two main reasons:

  1. unlike one may believe, racing locations are extremely clean, and obsessive care is taken of the facilities where the teams operate;
  2. similarly, we have to give up the stereotype according to which the purchase of detergents is a women’s prerogative.

Detergents, household products and sponsorships: a winning strategy, RTR Sports

Racing and cleanliness: why are races obsessively clean?

One aspect that normally impresses anyone visiting a motorsports factory is cleanliness, combined with incredible tidiness. Floors, surfaces, window panes, work benches and all tools are in perfect order and impeccable, above all. Some work processes, to mention an example, are even carried out in “clean rooms”: these are fully dust-free rooms typically used for productions in the pharmaceutical, food processing or micro electric industry.

The feeling is the same when you go to a racing track to follow the main activities of the teams, i.e. racing and serving their partners. Everything is clean, tidy and orderly. Care is the common denominator in boxes, garages, and hospitalities, as well as in service locations.

So, do you really think that there is a better “shop window” to demonstrate what your product, cloth or spray can do? Anyone can easily recall to mind mechanics cleaning a motorcycle fairing or the sides of a racing car or the visor of a driver’s helmet using a spray and a microfiber cloth. Only a few, however, are aware of how clean hospitalities are or how perfect garages are. Don’t miss the chance to give your guests this opportunity and to create a good impression!

Why is the world of racing so madly fond of cleanliness and tidiness to such extent that they have become an integral part of the business? There are two main answers to this question: the first is performance, while the second is control.

Firstly, dust, debris, dirt and other foreign matter contribute to deteriorating mechanical parts and prevent them from operating perfectly. In a world where one-tenth of a second makes the difference, the conditions of each component must be more than merely excellent. The only way to achieve the above is by continuous cleaning, maintenance, and care. Secondly, constant cleaning and checking (i.e. handling) of the materials help mechanics understand whether parts are integer and free of damage which may jeopardize the race results or, in the worst case, pose a hazard for the driver/racer. Cleaning in racing is not merely an exercise of style: it is rather a life-saving activity.

Detergents, household products and sponsorships: a winning strategy, RTR Sports

Men, women and detergents: a new Purchasing Manager on the horizon

The second point relates to the purchasing manager (PM) who buys soaps and detergents. Despite common thinking, this is no longer a women’s prerogative. The world has changed in this area too …. thank God.

According to the Office for National Statistic, 7.7 million people in England live on their own and 58% of these households consist of single men who have to take care of each and every aspect connected to the daily care of their body and household. According to Istat, the Italian National Statistic Institute, the situation in Italy is not much different. Here too, men and young men of all ages daily deal with floor cleansers, Marseille soaps, fabric softeners and wash machine caps (and they state they do it with great satisfaction).

After focusing on “household” cleaning, the time has come to draw attention to the huge market of clothes hygiene and washing. This market too offers anyone interested in the sponsorship sector a lot of food for thought: all members of staff at the race track proudly wear uniforms that identify their team. Staff includes mechanics, engineers, press officers and managers who display the brand of their partners and the manufacturers whom they represent while performing their jobs.

Although the work of mechanics is traditionally associated with oily hands and trousers and T-shirts fouled with grease, you will never find a MotoGP or F1 mechanic wearing a stained uniform. They have, of course, many sets of uniforms at hand, but another reason for the above is that uniforms are thoroughly washed and ironed after each race and they live through the season unspoiled. My mind immediately goes to some past ads where the whitening property of some detergents was combined with their gentleness on fabrics. Motorsports mechanics and their uniforms may be taken as a perfect example of such a situation.

The same connection may quite easily be made with consumer electronics, as well as with washing machines and tumble dryers that return spick-and-span clothes, often to be worn the weekends after the back-to-back races.

Is it merely a matter of hygiene and cleanliness? Well, honestly, there is more to it: it is valued to be passed on. The crystal clean uniforms are the means through which the image of the team is transferred to the outer world. The teams represent excellent storytelling opportunities for manufacturers of washing machines and tumble dryers who may use a discipline like this where values such as speed, reliability, and strength are easy to communicate.

One thing we need to refrain from doing is to let stereotypes take over, as this may lead to think that certain product categories are not suitable for some specific sports. A typical stereotype may be that a female product should necessarily be connected to female sports like volleyball. Why? The number of women watching MotoGP, soccer or rugby is now a seven-digit figure.

This topic definitely deserves further debate in other posts where examples may be mentioned of new product categories which may, at first sight, appear to have little to do with motorsports, but actually, have a lot in common with them at a more in-depth examination.

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Riccardo Tafà
Riccardo Tafà
Managing Director for RTR Sports, Riccardo graduated in law at the University of Bologna. He began his career in London in PR, then started working in two and four-wheelers. A brief move to Monaco followed before returning to Italy. There he founded RTR, first a consulting firm and then a sports marketing company which, eventually, he moved back to London.
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