By on January 21, 2012

It used to be that car companies would kill to have their cars seen with stars. That seems to be changing if a frightening development in Melbourne is an indicator.  The Melbourne F1 Grand Prix used to attract spectators and sponsors with a celebrity race. The celebs of course did not race their own cars. To make it a fair and even-handed race where only driving skill decides, they were handed cars supplied by a sponsor. This year, the luminary laps are a scratch. Oh, there is no shortage of stars. There just aren’t any cars. The organizers could not find a sponsor that was able to supply the more than 25 cars needed.

“We’ve just finalized the line-up and the celebrity challenge is not part of that,” Melbourne Grand Prix chief Andrew Westacott told the Herald Sun.“It simply came down to the fact that we couldn’t find an auto provider that had cars coming on to the market that they could supply in time. It was not through lack of trying.”

Last year, Lexus sponsored the event and supplied CT200 hybrids worth $39,990 each to celebrities “such as aerial skier Jacqui Cooper, models Rhys Uhlich and Kasia Z and former AFL star Saverio Rocca.”

Westacott said it was a sign of the tough economic times the auto industry was facing.

Could be. Or maybe cars are selling so well that they are in short supply? Or the budget has been blown on influencing social media influencers?  Or sponsors expect (this should rile the Aussies) real stars in exchange for a fleet of cars?

Disclaimer: Cars for Stars® is a registered trademark of Cars for Stars Limited. Community Trade Mark No. 4767679 – UK Trade Mark No. 2345169. Also see here.



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14 Comments on “New Trends In Product Placement: No Cars For Stars...”

  • avatar

    The only way these races using stars as advertising faces work to attract attention is if the race is down with tops down… and no, I don’t mean the cars.

    • 0 avatar

      I enjoy the concept. Mark Knopfler crashing on turn 1 was a highlight, but in the last few years I have recognized fewer and fewer names and the chosen mounts have been less than exciting. Or maybe it’s just that with all the acronyms installed it is just too hard to get the cars in trouble.

  • avatar

    If celebs want to race, tell ’em they buy their own stinkin’ cars. Wah.

  • avatar

    I remember the Neon Challenge in the mid 90’s, specifically watching them at Lime Rock in support of the Trans-Am race. Some of the celebrities, such as Jason Priestley, actually got the racing bug and went on to do some real racing.

  • avatar

    The definition of a “star” has fallen so low that there is no name recognition anymore. Why let someone who nobody recognizes race a car for free? Someone like Jack deserves it much more than the so called “stars”. Is a model a “star”? I don’t think so. They are human coat hangers at the very best.

  • avatar

    no one wants to pick up the damage bill for 25 cars

  • avatar

    I still don’t think that Wolfgang Puck will be asked to return his comped Escalade anytime soon.

  • avatar

    Aw, those celebrities have plenty of nice cars, if they were required to bring their own, it might be an added attraction for them, giving them a chance to show off their mighty rides. Of course the cars won’t be all the same, a Bugatti Veyron would race against maybe a 1967 Mini or a 1965 Mustang or an Escalade, and that wouldn’t be fair. But these races aren’t about real, competitive racing anyway, it’s more for entertainment values, and this way would be just as entertaining, I suspect.

    • 0 avatar

      So called stars in their own cars on a racetrack. It sounds like a recipe for disaster.. Some stars barely know how to use that large round wheel on their dashboards. Others are (semi-)pro racingdrivers.

      Anyway, ’67 Mini vs. Escalade isn’t exactly fair. The Escalade can drive over the Mini and not even notice it.

  • avatar

    so much of what GM marketing did in the past couple decades has been proven to be ineffective, just as what they are doing today will be shown to be worthless eventually. you see, At General Motors, they just don’t get it and never, ever, as in not in another hundred years ever, will.

  • avatar

    ‘Or sponsors expect (this should rile the Aussies) real stars in exchange for a fleet of cars?’

    As an ‘Aussie’ (pronounced OZZ-E not OSS-E) let me say: ‘Not really’.

    *If* they were household names here, but not globally then they could at least be effective ambassadors locally, and I would call you ignorant.

    However, of those you list I didn’t recognise a single one apart from Sav Rocca, who incidentally has spent the last few years state-side playing your strange brand of football. Looking at the other names I could find I recognised a middle-of-the-road comedian and an Olympic swimmer.

    But then I think you missed the point of these races, people tune in to watch the carnage, the auto makers get plenty of publicity the ability to show off their airbags. They fill the cars with B-grades and has-beens because it’d be unethical to raid the local institutions for their patients.

    • 0 avatar

      It’d be cheaper for a automaker to sponsor a womens creamed corn + maple syrup wrestling match on the front straight before the main event. The automaker would get much more buzz out of that. Might not be a good buzz, but a big buzz none-the-less.

      Most of the time, these races on TV spend more time showing the “Stars” out of the car than the stars in the race.

      The Toyota of Long Beach Grand Prix has done pretty good over the years with “names”, but I have no idea who half of those people are. They have an advantage of Hollywood being just up the road.

      • 0 avatar

        That sort of event *would* be well suited to the V8 Supercar Series, the cost-benefit of negative publicity to punter appeal may well pay off there, but not within high-brow pretensions of F1.

        Drawing a lottery from ‘early-bird’ ticket holders would be a far better way to source drivers. Give them the same level of training and they couldn’t do any worse than the ‘celebs’. It’d create a whole lot more buzz and help shift a few more tickets too.

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