DHL and Formula 1

By Natalia Langsdale | Paddock magazine sat down with Thomas Nieszner, President, Global Head of Motorsport at DHL, to discuss the relationship the company has with Formula 1.

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With all those years in motorsport, logistics to pilot the “race behind the race”, what have been the most important factors that DHL have had to adhere to?

Indeed, DHL has been the logistics service provider for Formula 1 for more than 35 years and has been the Official Logistics Partner since 2004. With the World Touring Car Cup, DHL is supporting one of the most spectacular international touring car championships since 2010. And since the establishment of Formula E in 2013, DHL has been involved as Official Logistics Partner and has thus contributed to launching the world’s first Formula E championship with electrically powered vehicles.

I think it’s profound knowledge and great service that DHL always adheres to: for all of these partners, we transport thousands of tons of valuable and time-sensitive freight to the racing locations each year, using environmentally friendly multi-modal transport solutions whenever possible. We also provide full tracking and tracing of the cargo in transit, offer customs brokerage and pickup services as well as customs clearance. It is the dedication to delivering excellence that makes DHL special. In a nutshell, it’s the combination of these attributes – together with the global network, extensive industry expertise and proactive approach – that makes DHL the preferred partner in motorsports.

How important was it for DHL to select the most appropriate motorsport events that it currently supports in terms of sponsorship and why?

Our motorsports partnerships allow us to reach millions of passionate fans worldwide with the DHL brand while showcasing the specialist services and expertise of our motorsports and automotive-sector teams at the same time. Regular measurements confirm the successful positioning and “emotionalisation” of the DHL brand within the motorsports community. DHL stands for excellence, personal commitment, can-do attitude, global performance, speed, “right first time”, teamwork, and sustainable solutions – and motorsport offers one global platform to prove these attributes and to fill them with life. In addition, the partnerships enable us to develop specialised logistics solutions for other customers in the automotive industry, which helps also growing our core business. And finally, as a logistics service provider with a large fleet of its own, DHL will also benefit in the long-term from the significant technical innovation potential in the motorsports area which enhances the efficiency of road transport.

Product and corporate image is all; what does DHL do to go the extra mile when it comes to representing itself in motorsport?

I think DHL is taking a very special role as the official logistics partner of some of the most exciting racing events worldwide. And, in terms of innovation, DHL recently became a car manufacturer by its own, successfully developing and producing so-called StreetScooters. Currently, more than 5,500 of these smart e-delivery-vehicles are on the road in Europe already, and we successfully started sales to third parties too. Yet we are looking into production capacities of up to 20,000 StreetScooters by the end of 2018. We are leveraging our motorsports engagements to show our logistics expertise and future mobility solutions and innovations on-site the race circuits. These include the StreetScooters, drone technology or a robot called EffiBOT, which is a new, fully automated trolley that follows pickers through the warehouse and takes care of most of the physical work.

I think there are many initiatives underway that target younger audiences and help to keep up with the fan’s demands.

Thomas Nieszner, DHL

In the many years that DHL has been an active sponsor in the motorsport industry, has there been any significant changes to how representation has evolved and if so, how?

As a sponsor in the motorsport industry, DHL has continuously leveraged its partnerships as a marketing platform in order to promote the company’s core competency and global efficiency and to strengthen the DHL brand. But indeed the focus of our activities has more and more evolved from brand representation – either at the race tracks or via TV broadcast opportunities – to offering social media content and interactive engagement formats, creating real “moments that deliver” for the fans. The media consumption habits of the new fan generations at the racing circuits have changed – they demand entertaining and innovative formats, and our partners and DHL are happy to respond to these changing requirements.

How does DHL go beyond traditional sponsorship? What does it do to keep abreast?

I think there are many initiatives underway that target younger audiences and help to keep up with the fan’s demands. For example, DHL just became the first official partner of the Formula 1 eSports series. With that, we are very pleased to accompany Formula 1 on its digital journey and to actively contribute to the expansion and “emotionalisation” of the product range for fans. Other joint initiatives include fan festivals in core and growth markets of Formula 1, as well as creating some new digital formats. We offer fans unique access and enable them to become behind-the-scenes reporters as well; in addition, we will invite the fans to align their passion with those in the pitlane and to design the trophy which will be presented to the winners of the DHL Fastest Pit Stop Award at the 2018 season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Sustainability is a major topic today, so what does DHL do to contribute as being a key sponsor in motorsport?

As part of the Deutsche Post DHL Group, DHL is committed to reducing all logistics-related emissions to zero by 2050. This is why DHL is striving to achieve the highest level of sustainable logistics within the framework of its partnerships, thereby enhancing the efficiency of its partners’ supply chains. Jointly, we are looking into transport solutions that minimise the environmental impact and are balancing these service offerings with the specific requirements of motorsports cargo transportation, e.g. in terms of volume, distance, or speed. Among other solutions, we are increasingly using efficient multi-modal transport solutions including both road and sea freight, which helps to minimise air freight volumes of the racing equipment.

Also, DHL is the Founding Partner of Formula E. Our overall target is to create awareness of sustainable solutions, innovative technologies and the future of mobility while at the same time accelerating the research and development around electric vehicles. Together with Formula E, we want to inspire the broader public to embrace sustainable lifestyles and innovative technologies and create a better future for our planet.

In addition to environmental protection, DHL’s corporate responsibility activities also include improving education and employability for children and young people around the world. With regards to motorsports, we have also joined partners with “F1 in Schools”, an international competition aiming to attract young talents to the sciences, math, engineering, and technology.

What are the forthcoming events that DHL will be sponsoring? Any new initiatives that can be shared?

One series of events we are especially looking forward to in our role as official logistics partner of Formula 1 are the triple-back-races – meaning races that take place on three consecutive weekends – which will take place in France, Austria and the UK from June 24. These are the ultimate test of all key stakeholders working in unison: the team, the suppliers, Formula 1, and of course, DHL. It will require 24 hours of intense logistics movement culminating in the entire pit lane being packed up and brought to the next destination, then reassembled before everything is ready to go – all within 48 hours. So, our 2018 back-to-back-to-back race will most likely be one of our biggest challenges to face so far! Also, DHL is involved in the Goodwood festival of speed in 2018. And for sure we are much looking forward to the Formula 1 season finale, when the DHL Fastest Lap and the DHL Fastest Pit Stop awards will again be presented – the latter in the new design created by the fans.

DHL will also benefit in the long-term from the significant technical innovation potential in the motorsports area which enhances the efficiency of road transport.

Thomas Nieszner, DHL

In your opinion, what is the future of motorsport sponsorship? Is there anything the industry could do to improve on in terms of offering better visibility, more innovative ways of getting your brand seen? 

I think there are many very promising initiatives already underway that will create strong visibility for the brand and help to deliver towards the fan community’s growing expectations at the same time. This includes ways to digitalise the fan experience and increased usage of innovative technologies too – such as exciting graphics, animations, AR and VR experiences, and eSports formats. And we believe that an entertaining storytelling approach, as well as organic brand integration with a focus on enhancing the fan experience, will always be key for new as well as for the ongoing initiatives.

Technology offers sponsors and rights holders exciting opportunities for the activation of partnerships. What recent trends in the digitisation and technological progression of sports sponsorship has DHL incorporated?

As mentioned earlier, with regards to motorsports, DHL has just become the first official partner of the Formula 1 eSports series. Also, we joined partners with the world’s largest eSports company, ESL, and are expanding our brand presence in the eSports market, which is growing exponentially with millions of fans and active players worldwide. And, together with our global partners, we are also looking into further options to leverage opportunities along our joint digital journey.

How do you perceive the new proactive approach in building on fan engagement through more proactive social media in Formula 1, for example? Has it had a positive impact for DHL?

Indeed we see a positive impact as these social media platforms offer highly relevant content for the fan community. As an example, DHL creates branded fan content in collaboration with Formula 1, which is appreciated by the fans. In addition, DHL operates its own channels – for instance, the theme channel of motorsport is particularly popular, and the DHL Motor Sport Facebook page has more than 650,000 fans so far.

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