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Today, it will be about a simple, but also exceptionally successful advertising action, straight from the world of Formula One. This sport, despite being cosmically expensive and full of high-tech solutions, is based on nuances and often almost imperceptible innovations when talking about the F1 bolides itself. Before the current season, which began in March, however, there has been a visible and highly controversial change. Its name is Halo, or more precisely Halo System. This is an additional element in the form of a bow or a hoop stick (in the picture below in pink you can see it above the head of the driver), mounted for the duration of driving to the top of the car’s cockpit, and its task is to protect the driver against, for example, elements of other, potentially damaged cars lying on the track. Their contact with the head of the driver at a speed of over 300 km / h, which is the standard in F1, is a huge threat, which for years has generated discussions about the safety of races. Since the 2018 season, all F1 teams necessarily have to mount such a titanium addition to their cars.
The look of Halo has aroused much controversy from the beginning. There was a lot of talk about the fact that the cars lost their image because of additional equipment. The drivers did not complain about this hoop stick (it is mainly about the visibility of the track), but they were not the happiest either, especially those shorter drivers – the Halo system makes it difficult to get in and out of the car, that is why most of the drivers use small steps attached to the car in the garage.
This is a Mercedes-AMG car from 2017 and 2018, with the Halo system already installed.
This bizarre, and according to many experts from F1 teams, an unnecessary element of cars was used in a great way by the team of Force India, which is struggling with financial problems and difficulties with the budget tightening for the whole season every year. How? Of course, by making it an advertising surface, which in F1 is not cheap (prices for the cheapest advertisements on F1 cars are around 1-3 million USD for the season, the most expensive can even oscillate around 100 million dollars). The company that applied for the place on the Halo Force India system was not accidental and only looking for exposure in F1 races. The cooperation was established with the Brazilian brand Havaianas, producing among others … iconic flip-flops. Why such a decision? When you look again at an F1 car with a Halo system installed, you will notice that its shape is similar to the characteristic belt known to all wearers of popular flip-flops.
The cooperation is distinguished by a perfect fit on the line: the brand – advertising medium, so a nice big hand for the Havaianas marketing team. I have never liked any marketing cooperation in F1 as much as this one. The contract has been signed for the entire season, but the advertisement will be displayed during selected races, including Brazil, where Formula 1 is an extremely popular sport – also despite the fact that Brazil, after the departure of Felipe Massa, has no driver at the rate. Otmas Szafnauer, COO of Force India, commenting on the cooperation, admitted that the team is delighted with the possibility of placing the logo of the brand producing flip-flops in this place and added that its people like to act courageously in the area of Force India marketing. Another proof of this may be the ultra-pink color that has been decorating the cars since the 2017 season and distinguishing the team from the competition.
Interestingly, the idea for cooperation initially came from the fans of the Havaianas brand, who in social media combined their favorite brand with the shape of the Halo system and persuaded for cooperation.
I have been interested in F1 for many years. It is a sport of high technology, splendor, huge budgets and recognizable brands. Only with advertising activities is always the same – the bigger the logo, the better (apparently) the bigger the money in the band’s cash register from the brand looking for promotion in the queen of motor sports. Havaianas and Force India have shown, however, that even a formalized sport can introduce the brand in a slightly less clichéd way, and at the same time, with a perfect match to the advertising medium used.
Edit: Thanks to Rafał’s suggestion, one of the readers of the blog, I want to add that Havaianas was not the first brand that placed the logotype on the Halo system. The pioneer of advertising on this component was another flip-flops making brand, Gandys, which entered into a similar cooperation with the McLaren team.
Finally, as an additional material and titbit, the first ride of the Polish F1 driver (currently the role of reserve and development driver in the Williams team) with the car with the Halo system installed.