EE demands Vodafone McLaren F1 team be 'garaged' at Silverstone
Vodafone has been forced to defend it's choice to put 4G branding on the side on of its Vodafone McLaren racecars at this weekend's British Grand Prix following complaints from EE.
The only 4G operator in the UK has complained that Vodafone is falsely advertising its not yet launched 4G service ahead of the official rollout later in the summer.
According to a Vodafone, EE's chief of brand and communications contacted Vodafone on Friday night demanding that carrier garage Jenson Button and Sergio "Checo" Perez’s racing cars and remove the "ultrafast 4G" branding from them.
"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," a spokesman for the company told Pocket-lint.
"It’s a 'static promotion', albeit on a car that can travel at over 200mph. 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."
Strangely EE hasn't complained about the company's decision to brand a number of London taxis with the same messaging, which was revealed earlier in the week.
"Far from demanding Jenson get garaged, we're right behind him for tomorrow's race. 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," a spokesman had told Pocket-lint in response the the claims.
The Vodafone McLaren team starts Sunday's Gran Prix in 11th and 14th place on the grid with Jenson, with Jenson's performance being rather lacklustre against the rest of grid. Perez starts the Silverstone Gran Prix in 14th.
We are awaiting confirmation on what EE's next move will be.