December 4th is also World Advertising Day. And anyone who follows sports knows about the close relationship between athletes and advertising, especially in the case of an international sport, like Formula One. After all, the support of famous brands was vital to Ayrton Senna’s career, from go-kart racing to his three world titles in the biggest category of motorsports. That’s why the Ayrton Senna official website is taking a look back at some of his most memorable advertising campaigns – most of them run in Brazil, where the driver always had a huge commercial appeal.

1- Banco Nacional

Throughout Ayrton Senna’s career, Banco Nacional, was one of the driver’s most iconic sponsors. As a symbol of Senna’s bond with his home-country, his famous blue cap was part of his Sunday racing gear. The bank supported Senna from 1985 to 1994. Even though the brand doesn’t exist anymore (the bank was acquired by Unibanco which, in turn, merged with Itaú), Nacional boasts another historic marketing case: it sponsored the first nationally broadcast news program in Brazil, TV Globo’s Jornal Nacional.

2- Shell

Shell was one of Ayrton Senna’s mains supporters throughout his career. It was there when the Brazilian won his three F1 word titles (1988, 1990, and 1991) and for each one of his victories with McLaren. Senna starred in several ad campaigns for them as a McLaren driver (from ’88 to ’93) and, nowadays, Raízen, Shell’s licensed brand in Brazil, supports the Ayrton Senna Institute in many educational initiatives, such as the 2015 campaign “Doe Letras” (“Donate Letters”).

3- Ford – Corcel II 

Senna’s relationship with Ford started during the Brazilian’s successful stint as a Formula driver in England. The company bet on the potential of the driver, who became a Formula Ford 1600 champion in 1981 and won the Formula Ford 2000 title in 1982. In 1983, Senna appeared in an ad for the Corcel II, an ethanol-powered car being launched in Brazil, as well as in other campaigns in the following years.

4- Ford – Escort XR3

The partnership between Ford and Ayrton Senna lasted until his first year in Formula 1. In 1984, as a Toleman driver, he starred in the Escort XR3 commercial, a car that captured the future champion’s style. Sporting a 1.6 liter, 83 horsepower engine, a rear wing and auxiliary headlights, it became one of the most desired vehicles by young people at the time.

5- Philip Morris – Marlboro

Tobacco advertising was allowed for several years, in Formula One, until its banishment in the middle of the last decade. During his time at McLaren, from 1988 to 1993, Ayrton Senna’s cars had Philip Morris – the tobacco giant – as their main sponsor. Marlboro, one of the group’s brands, had also sponsored Ayrton’s Toleman, in 1984. When he was at Lotus, Senna drove cars emblazoned with the John Player Special and Camel logos. And Williams was sponsored by Rothmans. It is important to notice that the driver’s official website, maintained by the Ayrton Senna Institute, does not display tobacco brands in its pages, in accordance with the current tobacco legislation in Brazil.

6- Allianz

Allianz and the Ayrton Senna Institute have announced a partnership in 2015, and, a few months later, an ad for the insurance company, featuring driver Eric Comas, who was saved by Ayrton Senna after an accident during the practice sessions for the 1992 Belgian Grand Prix, received an award. The #MeuMomentoSenna (#MySennaMoment) campaign was a hit in social media, where fans shared how the driver had touched their lives.

7- Nike

Ayrton Senna’s voice was used in the “Chegue Lá” (“Get There”) Nike campaign, in 2014, which highlights patriotism, one of the lessons the champion tried to impart on his fans. The goal of Ayrton’s speech is to inspire and motivate athletes who want to improve their performance.


Honda and Senna were synonymous with victories in F1. Together, they conquered three world titles and dozens of victories, and the successful partnership was recently honored in a touching recreation of a record-breaking lap by Ayrton Senna at Suzuka. Watch the video: