When Greats Unite

One of racing’s most legendary names joined forces with one of the world’s most prolific branding agencies to put in motion a synergy that is destined to make history, break records and inspire generations to come.
Words by Jorge Arauz | Photography by Josue Acosta | March 29, 2020 | Lifestyle
photo courtesy of Emerson Fittipaldi

When the stars align and the universe is calling for souls to cross paths to yield greatness, there’s not much any of us can do but follow the signs and go with the flow. Thus a chance encounter between Key Biscayners Norma Farmer and Rossana Fanucchi in the Ocean Club one early morning lead to what is poised to become one of the most iconic partnerships in sports history. The fast friends knew the men in their lives had to meet — great things were on the horizon. And so it came that Norma’s beau, James L. Dettore, CEO & Founder of Brand Institute, met Rossana’s husband, Emerson Fittipaldi, legendary racecar champion and entrepreneur, to discuss ways the global juggernauts could work together. It was a deal sealed in paradise.

The chance meeting turned into a business partnership that included Brand Institute sponsoring Emerson’s rising star son, Emmo Jr. Fittipaldi. Scoring the major sponsorship at just 12 years old, the son of the two-time Formula 1 Champion and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner has the pedigree and passion to realize his dream of becoming a Formula 1 Racecar Driver. “Racing runs in the Fittipaldi Family and, like his father before him, Emmo Jr. is an exceptionally talented driver with incredible ambition and drive,” says Dettore. “Brand Institute is honored to be the main sponsor of Emmo Jr.’s, and we are committed to supporting his efforts toward becoming a champion Formula 1 Racecar Driver.” 

Brand Institute knows what makes a great brand. Founded in 1993, the firm has partnered with some of the world’s most iconic companies on their branding initiatives, including AT&T, IBM, Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks, PepsiCo, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Bayer, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, to name a few of their 1,250 clients and 3,900 brand naming partnerships. Brand Institute found its niche in pharmaceutical and healthcare branding, a highly regulated industry with companies in need of proven methodologies and regulatory best practices. Recognizing this opportunity, in 2004, Brand Institute founded Drug Safety Institute (DSI), a wholly owned subsidiary that is comprised of full-time regulatory experts who formerly served as key naming, packaging and labeling officials at the FDA, European Medicines Agency (EMA), Health Canada, American Medical Association (AMA) and World Health Organization (WHO). This business decision paid off. Brand Institute is now the global leader in pharmaceutical and healthcare-related brand name and identity development, naming over 75% of drugs approved worldwide.

Much like the world of racing, Brand Institute understands the importance of speed. Responsiveness to clients, rapid and strategic growth, and tapping into the local job market are a few of the principles that have made speed a cornerstone of Brand Institute’s business model. Equally as important to Brand Institute is their commitment to the development of youth. Brand Institute looks at its sponsorship of Emmo Jr. as a means of inspiring future generations to make their dreams a reality. “Between twice a week simulated racing and the actual races I participate in, I’m getting used to the speed, the adrenaline and how fast I can go around turns,” says Emmo Jr. “When you have the perfect lap, it’s very rewarding!”

Emmo Jr.’s road to Formula 1 started at just 6 years old. Currently, he’s participating in the 12-15 Junior Category, which is followed by Formula 4 International, Formula 3, Formula 2 and ultimately Formula 1. “My relationship with my dad is very special, we relate really well to one another because we both like racing, we both enjoy the same sport, and we learn a lot together in the races,” says Emmo Jr. “Three words to describe my dad are: fast, strict and fun! I’m inspired by his story: the speed, the adrenaline and everything else combined — I hope one day we will be able to drive together…we are always competing against each other, when we go to the simulator we see who can do the best time and we travel all around the world for my races.”

Adds Emerson Sr.: “When you have a child living with you and growing up with you, a father has the power to give them a dream, a goal, an expectation,” he says. “I have a great vision for Emmo Jr.’s future. The natural talent he has is going through the basics now — driving go-karts, competing wheel to wheel and feeling the pressure — he’s like a diamond ready to be polished and positioned for the future.”

But first and foremost in the Fittipaldi household is education. “It is very important for young people who dedicate their lives to sports — especially when we travel so much for races,” says Emerson Sr. “School helps you have a broader view of life that you can apply in many situations. If he doesn’t do well in class, we won’t continue with the sport. It’s a fact, and above all else, it’s a challenge.”

And that challenge is something Emmo Jr. does not take lightly. “I’m so proud that he follows in my footsteps,” says Emerson Sr. “I know it’s very hard, and Emmo Jr. has tremendous pressure because of his name. Everywhere we go there are a lot of expectations, the name helps to open doors but at the same time, Emmo Jr. has to learn how to race with this tremendous pressure that he must learn to switch off — part of life is learning to transform pressure into positive.” And, with the support of Brand Institute, lots of hard work and dedication, the possibilities are truly endless.