SAP Launches Race-Sponsorship, Ad Campaign

E-business applications company SAP Friday unveiled a global advertising and promotional campaign designed to leverage the company’s weighty client roster to a worldwide audience.

The main vehicle — excuse the pun — for the campaign will be its title sponsorship of United States Formula One racing, which the company has through 2002.

The sponsorship will kick-off with weekend’s inaugural race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is expected to draw crowds of 300,000 people. More importantly for the company, an additional estimated television audience of more than 450 million will be watching worldwide.

SAP is also betting that heightened excitement at Formula One’s return to the United States following a nine-year hiatus — and the only time the race will be run on U.S. soil this year — will boost its visibility.

The news might seem surprising to some domestically, but to SAP — which sees a large chunk of its revenue coming from abroad — it’s a no-brainer: Formula One racing enjoys the same sort of worldwide popularity as do the Olympics and World Cup Soccer, generating television viewership in the hundreds of millions.

And unlike those events, F-1 racing has the added advantage of being held every other week for eight months of the year.

“That kind of brand exposure is almost impossible to get,” said SAP public relations director Bill Wohl. “Sports marketing is one of the tried-and-true methods of true brand exposure.”

The company also said it will be sponsoring the West McLaren Mercedes Formula One racing team through 2002, providing additional on-car exposure for SAP at each of the sixteen races around the world.

“The global appeal of Formula One is consistent with our efforts to expose millions of people to the SAP brand, continuing our ongoing efforts to build awareness for one of the world’s leading technology brands, and to symbolize that SAP is racing to the pole position of e-business solutions,” said Martin Homlish, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at SAP.

In additional to the promotional efforts, SAP released details of its worldwide advertising campaign, developed by Ogilvy & Mather, NY.

The company said the advertising portion of its campaign conveys the myriad ways SAP’s clients are using its e-business products, and includes print and television ads in more than 25 countries.

Ad buys include more than 40 worldwide business and IT publications, and commercial time from the four major U.S. television networks and networks in 10 other countries.

The campaign will also include airport posters and Web banner advertising across a variety of high-traffic business and general-interest sites and ad networks.

Spending on the campaign was not disclosed, although Wohl said this year’s spending exceeded the company’s previous campaign, which topped $100 million.

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