TOTAL South Africa and Motorsport
TOTAL South Africa's involvement in motorsport for over five decades has been more than just a philanthropic gesture by the company. TOTAL's decision to sponsor motorsport in 1957, was part of the company's marketing strategy when it entered the petroleum market in 1954.
Its entry into the market was not warmly welcomed by the established oil companies at the time, and in fact, TOTAL was given one year before it would disappear from the scene. However, the prophets of doom had miscalculated the resolve and marketing abilities of TOTAL's management team.
The sponsorship of motorsport was a pioneering feat at a time when sport sponsorships were hardly of any marketing or promotional importance in South Africa. At the same time the company entered the agricultural market with a vengeance and completely revolutionised the supply of petroleum products in this market.
It also entered the unknown area of the promotion of and support for nature and environmental conservation.
Today, TOTAL is still a leader in all three of these areas and in many cases the pioneering spirit of those early managers is very much part of these activities.
The company's involvement in motorsport over the years gone by, has been more than just handing out cheques to motor clubs and motoring enthusiasts. The success of its motorsport sponsorship, has been characterised by the very hands-on approach. For this reason, few people would gain-say the fact that TOTAL laid the foundations for the sport as we know it today.
The view then, which is still the view today, was that the company's sponsorship and support for motorsport, must play a role in the growth and development of the sport. And if that had not been the case, TOTAL would certainly have withdrawn from the motorsport scene long ago.
Its active involvement in the sport also had to benefit the company and make a contribution to building the good name and image of TOTAL whilst promoting its products. The fact that TOTAL was able to survive those early years and grow into the organisation it is today, can be attributed in no small way to its involvement in motorsport.
After all, our business activities are aimed at the owners of motor cars who are the end-users of our products and who benefit from the experience we have gained by testing our products in rallies, on the race tracks and elsewhere.
Much of what is today part of motorsport, developed out of TOTAL's early involvement. The fact that the media finally agreed to give credit to the company as the sponsor of the TOTAL International Rally, instead of referring to "the sponsored" rally, the development of special stage rallies, the wearing of crash helmets and seat belts, and introducing timing methods not previously used.
There is no doubt that TOTAL's support for motorsport touched just about every facet of the sport.
And just as the "TOTAL" as people still refer to the TOTAL International Rally, was unique at the time, the sponsorship of a series of blind navigators' rallies and the introduction of the TOTAL Economy Run in 1977, are equally two unique events on the annual motorsport calendar.
It also goes without saying, that thanks to the commitment of the company and its staff to the promotion and marketing of its motorsport activities, it played and still plays a major role in increasing the popularity of the sport. The development of new and potential talent is ongoing.
Just as is the case with its involvement in the promotion of environmental conservation and its involvement in community and other projects aimed at the upliftment of the quality of` life of the people of South Africa, TOTAL's backing for motorsport over the past 40 years, is something to be proud of.
As part of an international energy group, active in some 100 countries throughout the world, TOTAL South Africa's motorsport programme is an integral part of the motorsport activities of the TOTAL Group. In France, where the company has a huge involvement through its link with Peugeot and Citroën, in Formula 1, rallies, marathon rally raids, truck racing and the 24 hour Le Mans, in Britain in British Touring Cars and rallying, in Belgium in Touring Cars and in the United States in support for Nascar.
TOTAL is probably the best known brand in motorsport in the world.