JWT and McCann in contention for £15m F1 sponsorship task

J. Walter Thompson and McCann-Erickson are battling it out for the £15 million task to promote the Switzerland-based Sauber Formula 1 motor racing team in Europe.

The pitch is being run by Sauber's key sponsor Credit Suisse.

Credit Suisse is thought to be considering a range of marketing activities including ambient and above- and below-the-line advertising to raise Sauber's profile.

Both networks will pitch in the next few weeks, and are thought to be presenting campaigns which clearly link the bank with the kind of teamwork associated with successful Formula 1 teams. Work will be visible from next year.

Sauber lacks the profile of other Formula 1 teams, but recently signed its rival Jordan's driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who won two grand prix in 1999. The team is also sponsored by the energy drink brand Red Bull and backed by the Malaysian oil company Petronas.

Credit Suisse and Sauber's search for an agency comes as new rules have been introduced by the sport's governing body to boost audiences. TV viewing figures fell by 9 per cent in 2002, with many viewers complaining Formula 1 had become boring with Ferrari's dominance.

JWT handles global advertising for Vodafone, a key sponsor of the Ferrari team.