Formula 1 remains one of the premier marketing investment opportunities for companies around the world. Inherently, brands have invested in Formula 1 partnerships because of three key strengths that have been built and refined over time. Let’s explore what they are and look at the situation from a sponsor’s perspective.
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Consistent global audience
Formula 1 remains attractive for global companies because of its global audience (85 million viewers per race weekend), footprint, frequency (20/21 races per year on five continents), and association (with premium aspirational values and innovative technology). But more than just aiding a company’s brand visibility, Formula 1 is a powerful platform that has proven to transform brand perception and drive increased propensity to purchase; 51% of Formula 1’s fan base would choose a sponsor’s product or service rather than a rival brand.
Authentic high-profile and mission-critical product showcases
The term “partnership” is extremely common in the sport because in Formula 1 there often is a genuine partnership between the company and the team. Formula 1 offers a near-unrivalled opportunity for companies in a broad range of industry sectors to embed themselves into a team’s often mission-critical operations, meaning product integration is commonplace.
As the teams are typically very selective over which technology or supplier they use, the company benefits from an authentic endorsement of the product or service quality, as well as a broad range of rights that can be leveraged in hundreds of ways to help tell the story around the partnership and product/service deployment. Formula 1-themed campaigns typically deliver double-digit to several times multiple the results of regular campaigns.
A business development platform unrivalled in sport
For global VIP client entertainment, there is little better than Formula 1’s Paddock Club hospitality. It’s the gold standard that many sports strive to replicate. The new F1 Experiences product has only helped to freshen up the offering.
When Formula 1’s Paddock Club is combined with access to a range of other assets (not limited to a team’s garage, motorhome, drivers and team management) to create an immersive bespoke and business-relevant experience for your guests over a race weekend, Formula 1 can – in our experience at Rush Sport & Entertainment – dramatically improve B2B relationships and drive sales performance, ensuring the commercial return dwarfs the upfront investment.
Branded content has largely been underutilised in Formula 1.
Adding more strings to Formula 1’s bow
For companies around the world, brand development will remain a key marketing objective, greater demand for partnership authenticity will drive the need for product/service integration, and customer and stakeholder engagement will mean business development at Formula 1 races will remain a highly-valuable asset, so the sport’s current key assets will remain attractive for companies in the years to come. But, as media consumption habits change, differentiation becomes more important, and disruption and agility become crucial topics in boardrooms around the world, Formula 1 and its teams know they need to have more tricks up their sleeve. What might those be?
Digital content creation all year long
There’s no denying we’re going through the biggest transformation in the way we consume media since the invention of television itself. To engage the large majority of consumers, digital content is all-important. Currently, one-third of Formula 1 fans spend a minimum of three hours per day consuming content on their smartphones.
Since Liberty Media took over Formula 1, restrictions on content development across race weekends have been relaxed, and as a result, all of the sport’s social media platforms have benefited with increased content, greater following and improved engagement. Many avid fans will have by now streamed McLaren’s documentary with Amazon Prime Video, and seen Mercedes F1’s mid-season behind-the-scenes YouTube vlog series. These initiatives, and many more besides, are just the preview! Branded content has largely been underutilised in Formula 1, and in 2018, I believe, we’ll start to see more content on team channels made in partnership with brands involved in the sport.
Although the large majority of businesses involved are here for B2B reasons, Formula 1 is quietly equally strong in the area of consumer product promotions. Whilst the American sports are the ones applauded for their consumer packaged goods campaigns, the engagement and conversion rates for Formula 1-themed social media competitions, advertising promotions and point of sale retail displays are exceptional. There may only be a small percentage of brands pushing in the consumer segment from Formula 1’s ecosystem, but at Rush Sport & Entertainment, we believe more consumer brands will begin to take advantage of this in line with the new freedoms being offered by Formula 1 and the teams around creative activation concepts and digital content.
Formula 1 is one of the most attractive and effective places for an international brand to invest, but you didn’t need me to tell you that. For many companies though, conversations may not advance that far because the cost of Formula 1 involvement is perceived as prohibitively expensive. Our belief, however, is that more commercially-appropriate partnerships, that are strategically designed to address unique needs and requirements, aligned to an increased ability to capture data, better measure results, and deploy proven best practice, will change the conversation. Moving the dialogue to one based on robust commercial value and return, rather than the upfront cost. Quite simply, some things are worth more because they deliver far greater results.