It may have announced earlier this week that it is to end all of its Formula 1 sponsorship deals at the close of the forthcoming 2009 campaign, but ING already seems to have had a change of heart - in part at least.

The Dutch bank - which as a result of the global credit crunch recently revealed a second successive quarterly loss, of EUR3.3 billion, and has had to draw upon EUR22 billion of state loan guarantees - entered the top flight in 2007 as title sponsor to Renault and the Australian, Belgian, Hungarian and Turkish Grands Prix, with trackside advertising at 14 of the 18 races on the schedule.

Despite having confirmed that it is to withdraw from those deals when their contracts expire at the end of the season [see separate story - click here], ING has now stated that it is to remain in F1 after all, as chief sponsor of the Turkish Grand Prix, which this year will take place from 5-7 June in Istanbul.

ING has a strong record in the Turkish banking sector, and operates in more than 50 countries in all, offering private and corporate banking as well as insurance and asset management services. In the wake of the worldwide economic downturn, however, it has made clear that it intends to cut its expenses by EUR1 billion in 2009.

Meanwhile, ING Malaysia has fully supported the decision not to renew the company's contract with Renault in the current financial climate, despite having generated more than 20,000 leads from its local F1 consumer activities in 2008 alone.

"Over the past two years, ING Group has successfully achieved its objectives for the F1 sponsorship," branding and corporate communications head Geraldine Wong told Malaysian publication Sun2Surf, "raising its overall global brand awareness by 16 per cent and driving several billion Euros in new assets to the group.

"To-date, 134 of these business activations in 36 countries have driven new sales and revenues to the group. The goal for 2009 is to get the most out of the assets that we have [and] tap the experience of the F1 global central team and other business units to develop the most effective F1-related sales and marketing campaigns.

"Just because the sponsorship will come to its natural end this year, does not mean that we're putting the brakes on activation."

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