The handbags are out between two UK mobile networks ahead of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Why? It all comes down to what's on the Vodafone-sponsored McLaren cars.
Jenson Button and Sergio Perez's F1 jam jars are branded with Vodafone's yet-to-launch 'Ultrafast 4G' network. According to Vodafone, this annoyed EE somewhat, who contacted the red network "demanding" the cars be garaged and the branding removed, TechRadar reports. EE claims it did nothing of the sort.
A Vodafone UK spokesperson told TechRadar there was no harm in branding the cars with its forthcoming service. "This is sponsorship, not advertising," they said. "The clue is in the team's name: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. We're using the cars to build further awareness of our forthcoming ultrafast 4G service.
"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."
EE's response? It said it never made the demand, but it just thought it strange Vodafone would want to publicise a service that hasn't launched yet. "We're far from demanding Jenson get garaged, we're right behind him for tomorrow's race," a spokesperson said, backpedalling at 200mph. "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."
Miaow. I've reached out to both networks for comment, and will update this story if I hear back.
EE is the only UK network to have launched a 4G network so far, but the others are prepping theirs as we speak. EE recently rolled out 4G to 11 more towns, and doubled speeds in 10 cities. Nevertheless, consumers have complained about high prices, saying the sooner we get some competition, the better.
Is it fair to slate rivals' branding? Should Vodafone not shout about a service that hasn't launched yet? Let me know in the comments, or on our long-ago launched Facebook page.
Image credit: Vodafone UK