Tata Communications has signed a multi-year technical and marketing partnership with Formula One.The deal, announced by Bernie Ecclestone in London on Thursday, sees the Indian company, which is active in 52 countries, become the official technology supplier and connectivity partner of the sport.Although no financial details were officially revealed, informed sources suggest the deal has an overall value - once the value-in-kind components are built in - of around US$8 million a year.In practical terms, Formula One businesses and race locations will now be connected to the Tata Global Network, with Formula One Management's IT infrastructure and website co-located in Tata Communications' data centres.The company's managing director and chief executive Vinod Kumar said it looked at several marketing options before settling on Formula One. He explained that the B2B company has been seeking ways to build its brand through global sponsorship. Although founded in India, the country only accounts for around 25 per cent of Tata Communications' revenues. "Formula One Management now becomes one of our highest profile and most demanding global customers and Tata Communications will be the backbone for its connectivity to all 20 race locations and offices worldwide through our global network," he said at the announcement.
"Formula One Management now becomes one of our highest profile and most demanding global customers""We will also host and provide content delivery services to the Formula1.com website. In addition, some of of Formula One Management's critical IT infrastructure will also be co-located in two major data centres that Tata Communications' operates in the UK and hopefully that will expand to other data centres around the world as well."If you look at the journey of Tata Communications over the last ten years, we grew up from an Indian company that had 99 per cent of its revenues only in India to a company that today operates in 52 markets," Kumar continued. "We have been a challenger throughout this exercise, getting increasing credibility and recognition in the markets we serve and with customers."However, brand recognition is a challenge for someone like us given the roots we have and as a relatively new player in a highly competitive space. At this important phase of our development as a company we recognised that in order to catapult the business to the next level, we need to build our brand credibility and build association in the customers' minds by providing services to customers and operations that have high demands for network reliability."There is no better brand for us to associate ourselves with," Kumar added of Formula One. "The network requirements, hosting requirements and security requirements are of a level which any of our customers, whether they be in logistics or banking or shipping, would envy or aspire to. The time has come for us to showcase what we have been building for the last several years and the best way for us to do it, after a lot of analysis we did, is with Formula One." •UBS's Formula One sponsorship under the microscope•UBS signs US$200 million Formula One sponsorship"We assessed several marketing deals but nothing came close to Formula One in terms of global scale and profile as well as synergies."Tata Communications, part of the giant Tata Group, now joins the likes of UBS, DHL and LG as a global partner of Formula One. The nature of this partnership, however, suggests that Formula One is preparing to better embrace the digital world. Ecclestone, speaking at the announcement, conceded the sport has lagged behind in that area in recent years."We've been a little bit asleep with this type of communications," he said. "So we started to think we ought to wake up. We looked into the market to see who could provide the services we need and that's why we chose Tata Communications, because of all the people we researched we're sure they're exactly what we wanted. Our deal, just to make it quite clear, is nothing to do with sponsorship - it's to do with us being offered a service we needed."Ecclestone added: "Connectivity and content delivery are critical issues for Formula One and working with the best in the business is a priority for us. This is a collaboration that will help us stay at the technological cutting edge in these categories."The deal was negotiated by Zak Brown's Just Marketing International, the same agency that brought UBS and, more recently, Unilever into Formula One.