2013 – Mobile News writer Michael Garwood has written a piece saying that: “Vodafone say rival called for both McLaren cars to be pulled from the Silverstone race in a row over 4G branding down the side of each vehicle. EE denies these claims.
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. ”