Analysis Sponsorship

How BWT’s iconic pink marked a newfound presence in Formula 1

The Austrian water treatment company started the year without a partner, and now finds itself with the strongest branding presence in the sport since joining in 2017.

It is no surprise that when spotting a pink car in a motorsport event, the first brand that comes to mind is BWT, one of the most renowned suppliers of water treatment systems in the world.

The company brought the previously uncommon colour to the world of sports when they partnered with Lucas Auer for his DTM campaign in 2015, which drew a lot of eyes from the unexpecting public.

In the first two years, BWT had already made its mark in European winter sports and Austrian football with its exceptional branding, so logically, the next step would be reaching the global stage.

The iconic pink brand joined Formula 1 in 2017 with the Force India team, repainting their then-silver challenger accordingly, and staying partnered as the team made successful performances.

BWT’s branding presence at this time was unlike any other brand in motorsport – all elements of the partnered team were dominated by the pink-and-white backdrops and blue signage, reminiscing the sport’s standardised title sponsorship role.

© Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team

In 2020, the team – now named Racing Point – announced not only the signing of BWT as a title sponsor in a multi-year deal, but also that it was rebranding to the luxurious British carmaker, Aston Martin.

This brought a problem to the Austrian company – how could their colour palette co-exist with the deep green shade infamous with Aston Martin?

It seemed impossible, as BWT was removed from the Aston Martin’s team name during the winter break after the 2020 season as reports emerged that IT giant Cognizant would instead fill the vacated role.

The brand would also leave as title sponsor of Formula 2 team HWA RACELAB at the end of 2020 season while a decision was being made about its future in motorsports.

BWT were still interested in staying in the worldwide platform that is Formula 1, as both parties became committed to plastic-reduction and environmental sustainability, as in late 2019, the sport had announced its intention to be Net Zero Carbon by 2030.

According to Decalspotters’ sources, plans to remain having a BWT-branded pink car in the grid were dropped as talks with Haas F1 and Williams came to a stop.

In a late-minute signing, Aston Martin suddenly announced a global partnership with their previous partner BWT, who took the opportunity to sign another deal.

BWT brought newly-joined Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel, also vocal about sustainability, as a brand ambassador. Vettel would then reveal a new BWT-branded helmet design.

© Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team
© Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team

While Aston Martin’s car is predominantly dark green, BWT’s presence is felt in the finest details – pink accents add contrast and vivacity to the team’s livery and branding elements.

Accompanying the pink brand would be a new slogan, “Change the world, sip by sip”, which highlights the importance of reducing the unnecessary transport of water bottles and the reduction of plastic waste.

After it appeared the pink would be left out of the sport, BWT’s imagery became prominent in usually unexplored spots, such as drinking bottles and on the drivers’ gloves’ fingers.

It wouldn’t stop there – sources indicated to Decalspotters that BWT entered negotiations with Formula 1 prior to signing with Aston Martin, in a deal only finalised in June 2021.

Formula 1 would announce BWT as the title sponsor of the Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, in Austria, of the 2021 season – receiving major trackside signage across the two races.

One riveting part of the partnerships BWT partake in is the conceptualization of “Plastic-free zones”, which they brand as any space that utilises the company’s water treatment services as an alternative to the consumption of bottled water and products.

BWT’s marketing efforts come as unprecedented in motorsport, as not only did it bring an unfamiliar colour to car liveries, but also explored varied ways to put their branding in spaces deemed unreasonable to fill, alongside a preoccupation with the environment.

Considering all of this, the consumer unconsciously lets this communication style be consolidated in its knowledge of the sport and of the company itself, marking it as a familiar brand.

The Austrian company would continue to sign new deals in 2021, including with Mercedes-AMG for their customer racing teams in GT3 categories in Europe and its headquarters in Affalterbach.

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