Glaxo teams with McLaren in innovation deal – is there no end to the fatal attraction of Formula One?

Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline is teaming with Formula One team owner McLaren to tap the vroom vroom boys’ engineering expertise to help its own manufacturing processes and research and development.

Sooner or later the association will probably lead to a Lucozade sticker or two on the McLaren racing chassis as well (that’s the one trying to catch Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull).

F1 seems to wield a fatal attraction for be-suited corporate types (even WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell is an F1 board member although it’s hard to recall an image of him striding along the pits). Disgraced Royal Bank of Scotland boss Sir Fred Goodwin was another fan, I recall.

You have to hand it to McLaren founder and former team boss Ron Dennis who, since stepping down as team boss after a series of disputes with the FI hierarchy led by Bernie Ecclestone, has ramped up the rest of McLaren’s operations including its luxury cars business and struck a series of commercial deals.

Quite what McLaren can bring to Glaxo remains to be seen although it’s undeniably true that the FI big boys are brilliant at developing and installing new technology fast. Such rapid progress is hardly what the giants of the drugs world are famous for.

But F1 (and McLaren) seem to be everywhere. McLaren seems to be driving the entire marketing of headline sponsor Santander at the moment.

Some might say that there’s only one thing worse than one Lewis Hamilton – more Lewis Hamiltons.

The frightening thing is that it probably works.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.