Placing one's logo and/or name on a vehicle represents the minimum level of sponsorship. Showing one's support for a sports company in exchange for the visibility offered by participating in an event. In some cases, however, creatives, graphic designers and advertisers have been more adept at 'coming up with visual solutions capable of giving back in a more immediate way what a brand is all about. In fact, an apt livery can exponentially increase its effectiveness. This happens when, in addition to being well recognizable, it helps to correctly communicate the sponsor's activity or a particular type of product/service. There have been many experiments over the decades in a variety of categories, but the most successful ones stand out clearly.
The stratagems are the most varied: from subtle referencing through iconic elements to the use of actual photographs. In this first installment we analyze the case of the partnership between Sauber, Mercedes and AEG.
AEG, an acronym for Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft, is a famous German industrial group active since 1883 in the field of electrical engineering. In the mid-1990s it officially entered the orbit of the Daimler Mercedes group. In the years immediately preceding this transformation, 1985, the partnership between the two companies had begun with the acquisition by the same Daimler, which had not, however, changed its letterhead. The outcomes had begun to show themselves through the sponsorship of some cars.
The star of the initiative was the AEG Olympia, a new series of typewriters just launched on the market. In particular, there was a desire to enhance the industrial scope of AEG, which had been producing electronic and electromechanical devices for decades. AEG Olympia was the brand that dealt with typewriters, teletypewriters, and the first personal computers. The all-black bodies were thus decorated with a complex pattern of contoured parallel lines interrupted by 90-degree angles in an abstract rendering of printed circuit boards and flat cables. This gave the cars an unmistakable impact traceable to that commodity field in a creative and engaging approach. "Circuit Board" was not surprisingly the name used to denote the coloring.
In this way, in addition to defining an impressive ensemble, an idea of technology and electronics was returned without having to specify the type of product.
Bringing this great idea to the track were the Sauber-Mercedes C9 that raced in the 1988 World Endurance Championship season and the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evo 1 that competed in the 1989 DTM.
In some ways this operation brings to mind the aesthetic discipline of the Bauhaus, of which, moreover, AEG had been one of the protagonists. Indeed, it had promoted the work of architect Peter Behrens.
The year 1989 saw the first-person exposure of Mercedes, which took over operations and, with the Silver Arrows, racked up trophies: the C9s were repainted except for one, which was re-purchased by Peter Sauber himself and restored to its former glory with painstaking restoration.
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