Formula One Sponsors Face Massive PR Problem As Bahrain Protests Rage
Companies typically spend well into the six and seven figures for high-priced hospitality at any one of 20 Formula One events throughout the year, but hospitality at the Bahrain Grand Prix is off around 80% according to one agency's estimate and bigger concerns loom.
More pressing than the sunken hospitality costs though from a marketing perspective, is the PR backlash that many sponsors are likely facing as police turn to tear gas to quell protestors.
According to the non-profit, Business & Human Rights Resources, which asked each of Formula One's race, series and car partners to respond to the protests, only 29% had any comments on the escalating situation [which you can read here].
“I encourage everyone to look at each company’s response and to draw their own conclusions about which companies are taking human rights concerns seriously, and which are not," Chris Marsden, Chair of the board of Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, said.
Despite calls for the event's cancellation, Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa has insisted that the event now less than one day away will go on.
Corporate hospitality is a $200 million revenue generator across the 20-race Formula One season, according to Reuters.