Monaco Grand Prix – Branding Genius

The glamorous Monaco Formula One Grand Prix which is raced through the streets of Monte Carlo was won today by Jenson Button, driving for Brawn GP.

Button, who has won five of the opening six races of the season, follows in famous tyre tracks. Previous winners in Monaco include most of the greats of Formula One: Juan Manuel Fangio, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Stirling Moss, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher and many more. 

Did you notice the word “glamorous”? You may have seen it used before in association with the Monaco Grand Prix. It seems to be the default adjective of choice. A quick Google search produces these results when the name of each Grand Prix is combined with ”glamour”: 
- Monaco GP 42,900
- Italian GP 16,800
- Australian GP 16,700
- Brazilian GP 12,400

It’s a very unscientific test but coverage of this year’s race demonstrates the point:
Eurosport – “glamorous principality
BBC – “Formula 1 at its most glamorous
Motorsport.com – “glamorous Principality of Monaco

As a positioning for the Monaco brand, this must be very valuable. In an interview with Le Figaro, Albert II Prince of Monaco said the race was part of the sporting, cultural and sociological heritage of the Principality. He estimated the economic value of the event each year as 100m Euros. Local residents also recognise this value and tolerate weeks of inconvenience while the track infrastructure is constructed before the race then demounted afterwards.

Monaco has a burgeoning reputation for sport. There is a popular annual tennis tournament; this year it will be the start point for the Tour de France; and local football team AS Monaco maintains its place in the top tier of French football. All of these other sporting activities benefit from the reflected glory of the Grand Prix. It is a considerable achievement for what is a tiny if attractive city-state on the south coast of France with a population of 33,000. 

Of course the glamorous reputation is not founded on the Grand Prix alone. Prince Albert’s mother was none other than Hollywood star Grace Kelly and Monaco has long since attracted the wealthy and their yachts with its favourable tax regime. It also enjoys a stunning coastline setting and a warm climate. The importance of the Grand Prix is that it provides the perfect opportunity for Monaco to showcase its assets.

But there are warning signs. As The Times and others point out, there were empty stands for this year’s Monaco race weekend and Formula One generally is going through difficult times. Perhaps Monaco will have to look to other events to secure its glamorous reputation in future.

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