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EE and Vodafone clash over 4G branding on McLaren cars

Michael Garwood
July 1, 2013

Vodafone accused rival of trying to pull both McLaren from Sundays British Grand Prix at  Silverstone in a row over 4G branding down the side of each vehicle.  EE says the operator’s claims are untrue. 

EE tried to prevent the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team from racing in yesterday’s (June 30) F1 British Grand Prix, according to Vodafone.

Vodafone, who have been the team sponsor of McLaren since 2007 as part of a £50m a season deal, claims EE asked for drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez’s cars to be ‘garaged’ ahead of the race on Friday evening, and remove the ‘Ultrafast 4G’ wording down the side of each car.

EE, who is currently the only UK operator to offer a 4G /LTE  service, told Mobile News it “absolutely” did not request the cars to be pulled from the race, but suggested the operator should not be promoting a service it is yet to launch and remove the wording.

Vodafone refused, claiming it was using the car to build further awareness of its forthcoming 4G services – expected to launch this month.

A Vodafone statement read:  “This is sponsorship, not advertising. The clue is in the team’s name: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. We’re using the car to build further awareness of our forthcoming ultrafast 4G service. It’s a ‘static promotion’, albeit on a car that can travel at over 200 mph.

“Consumers know Vodafone’s ultrafast 4G is coming. We’ve said very publicly it will be here by the late summer. Even if someone seeing the car wasn’t aware of that, there is no ‘call to action’ on it.”

EE responded: “We simply asked why advertise a product that you don’t have ?  When it comes to 4G mobile networks, Vodafone UK isn’t even on the grid. ”




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