FORCE INDIA’S NEW LOOK
Not much stops Formula 1 in its tracks. But Force India’s eyepopping new livery? That certainly did.
From the livery of the VJM10 to the drivers’ helmets, Force India have chosen to ‘think pink’
when he’s asked about the reaction to his pinkliveried racing car. “Back home in Mexico, they like it a lot,” he says. “Especially the girls – they love it!” Force India love it too, not least because of the amount of coverage it’s generated since they unveiled water purication company BWT as a new major sponsor at the dawn of the new season.
In the rst week of the livery launch, the team recorded 14.5 million tweet impressions. Even when ex-Force India driver Nico Hülkenberg posted on his Facebook page a picture of the car with the quote: “Now you nally understand why I left Force India”, that notched up 16,000 ‘likes’. Not bad for a sponsor looking to get noticed, and a tidy immediate return on the estimated $30million the deal has cost (covering, in effect, Force India’s bill for a supply of Mercedes engines).
For the same amount, BWT could have placed their logos on a front-runner, such as Mercedes or Red Bull, but they found Force India better value for money since the team were willing to re-colour their whole car for the same amount.
“I’m not sure how many other teams out there would have had the latitude to change the entire car to pink – probably nobody,” says Force India’s chief operating ofcer Otmar Szafnauer. “Do you think Red Bull would have done it? No. Mercedes are the Silver Arrows, Ferrari have always been red. I don’t think even Williams would, because of their Martini deal. We changed to the colours that BWT wanted and they got a pretty good racing team, too.”
But while the livery shock tactics have drawn a lot of attention, it’s by no means the rst time that the team, who started out as Jordan Grand Prix in 1991, and who still operate from the same base in Silverstone, have scorched our retinas. Think of the all-green 7UP paint job from Jordan’s rst year in F1, or the gold, then vivid yellow, Benson & Hedges colours that led to the Buzzin’ Hornets design.
The deal with BWT came together quickly, in just 12 days, and the partnership brought an immediate boost in global awareness. Mention Force India now and – in F1 circles at least – people immediately ‘think pink’.
The colour scheme will extend beyond the VJM10 chassis, since both Sergio Pérez’s and Esteban Ocon’s helmets have been included as part of the deal. And as soon as sufcient team kit can be made, the race team will be walking around the paddock clad in pink from top to toe. Deputy team principal Bob Fernley sported a pair of his own pink trousers on Sunday in the Melbourne paddock, tongue rmly in cheek and loving every minute of it.
“From a sponsor’s perspective it has worked, and for BWT it was strategic,” continues Szafnauer. “They are a waterpurication company and their senior management saw an
“WATER IS SEEN AS BEING BLUE …BWT ARE THE ONLY WATER COMPANY THAT ARE PINK”
opportunity. Whenever they go to a water show everybody else’s company colours are blue, because water is seen as being blue. They’re the only ones that are pink. So now whenever they do a show they stand out more than anybody – and that’s the same now in racing.
“Yes, there have been some contrasting opinions and in some countries pink is considered more of a feminine colour than a masculine one and that can be positive or negative,” Szafnauer continues. “Some people think car racing should be masculine… maybe having a pink car on the grid will attract more women to the sport.”
So the ‘Pink Panther’ (the mechanics placed a sticker of the cartoon character in the cockpit) is most denitely here to stay. Rival sponsors will have to put their thinking caps on if they want to attempt to top its impact.
The all-pink livery is the boldest bit of branding seen in F1 for years, ensuring BWT and the ‘Pink Panther’ VJM10 really stand out