That the marriage between two of the strongest brands in Italy, Valentino Rossi and Ducati, should turn into a marketing goldmine comes as no surprise. Even before Rossi's signing with Ducati was officially announced, rumors among paddock insiders suggested that Ducati had sponsors lining up to back their MotoGP program, and now that the new season is approaching, Ducati is starting to pick the fruits of that.
For yesterday, at the Los Angeles Auto Show, AMG - a high-performance subsidiary of the Mercedes Benz brand - announced that they are to enter into a marketing partnership that will see the German car manufacturer support Ducati's MotoGP project. The partnership will not produce much in the way of visible sponsorship on the bikes, for Mercedes is to be "Official Car Partner" to the program, rather than any form of main sponsor. The pair will engage in joint marketing activities, including allowing selected Mercedes owners to test ride Ducati's new Diavel machine at AMG events, while selected Ducati owners will be given the opportunity to test Mercedes vehicles.
Ducati have long been the best of the MotoGP teams at raising sponsorship, and are the only manufacturer who can fund their MotoGP project almost entirely from their sponsorship income. The association of a luxury brand such as Mercedes with Ducati opens up an interesting and potentially lucrative market for MotoGP, with luxury brands being one of the few industries (besides energy drinks) where a significant proportion of the retail price consists of a marketing element, meaning that there are major marketing budgets available for the right sponsorship opportunities. Whether more luxury brands will follow AMG's example remains to be seen.
Below is the text of the press release from Ducati:
DUCATI TO COOPERATE WITH AMG
The two brands will work together closely in the future.
The initial aim of the cooperation between the performance brand from Affalterbach and the Italian manufacturer of high-performance motorcycles is to develop common marketing activities. The cooperation agreement was signed today, during a press conference at the Los Angeles Auto Show, by Gabriele del Torchio, President and CEO of Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A and Ola Källenius, CEO of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.
"We are especially proud to have AMG as one of our sponsors for the Ducati MotoGP Team. I am also very pleased that our joint marketing activities are well under way. In AMG we have found a partner who perfectly reflects our brand values of high performance, motorsport, excitement and our sense of unmistakable style and design," said Gabriele del Torchio, President and CEO of Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A.
"I am very pleased that we are able to announce our strategic cooperation with Ducati today. AMG and Ducati ideally complement each other, as both companies share the same values: racing as the driving passion, and high performance plus exclusivity as the central brand messages of both AMG and Ducati. This long-term cooperation will help us to jointly access new customer groups," said Ola Källenius, CEO of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.
The first visible results of the cooperation between Ducati and AMG will be joint marketing and sponsoring activities. AMG will support the Ducati MotoGP Team as the Official Car Partner from 2011, for example. During selected AMG events, participants will be able to test ride Ducati motorcycles, and Ducati customers will similarly have the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the latest AMG high-performance cars at events.
Joint events are planned for the members of the AMG Private Lounge, in which more than 13,000 AMG customers worldwide are registered. The partners are currently examining the further activities and strategic steps they might undertake together in the near future.
Ducati and AMG: racing, high performance, exclusivity.