Why Eddie Irvine’s got a BlackStar on his head

How many eagle-eyed grand prix viewers have noticed the new link between Eddie Irvine and his native Northern Ireland?

Check out his helmet. The re-design unveiled just before the start of the 2000 Formula One season not only bears allegiance to is new Jaguar team but also to his first home grown sponsorship.

Blackstar are the Belfast based Internet video and DVD retailers who have been among the first here to embrace the e-commerce revolution – and they are the first from Northern Ireland to become invoved in F1 sponsorship.

Jeremy Glover, BlackStar’s marketing director, was the man who bought the expensive space on Irvine’s helmet but he won’t say how much it cost.

“I couldn’t possibly comment on that,” he laughs, “but we are convinced it will be worthwhile.

“This exercise is not about the size of the logo on Eddie’s helmet or how much it cost. It is much more than that.

“You’ll notice that it doesn’t actually say BlackStar. That’s deliberate – it is about getting people to notice and to wonder what it means.

“We are trying to build a brand name that will be famous around the world and what better place to do it in one of the most global sporting arenas of all.

“We already have customers in 134 countries and we would like to expand on that with Eddie’s help”.

But it was close home connections which brought about the Irvine link.

“I’m from Bangor, he’s from Bangor or more accurately Conlig, which is just up the road, and we knew each other years ago,”explains Jeremy who founded the UK’s largest on-line video store three years ago with Darryl Collins and Tony Bowden.

“Maurice Hamilton, the F1 reporter who wrote Eddie’s autobiography, is a friend of my family and Michael Cooper, the grand prix photographer who took our promotional pictures at the Australian Grand Prix is from Belfast. It’s a small world even in F1”.

Irvine is happy to have an Ulster sponsor at last. “It’s great that Blackstar have come on board because it is the first real sponsor I have had from Northern Ireland in 17 years of racing. I’ve had a few friends helping me out over the years but never a commercial sponsor”.

Blackstar also see the link with Jaguar as important. “The Jaguar name is is seen as representing all things good about Britain and among our biggest selling lines are classical TV series. The two tie together very well,” adds Glover.

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