Bernie Ecclestone, the father of Formula 1, famously said,
“I’m not interested in tweeting, Facebook and whatever this nonsense is.. there is no point trying to reach kids because they won’t buy products. If marketers are aiming at this audience, they should go to Disney”.
By 2016, Formula 1 was a brand that lost its way, suffering from elitism, no relationship with fans and an ageing audience.
The turnaround story is truly remarkable.
By 2022, 61% of fan were under 35 and it has a ‘fan’-atical following quite like no other.
Here are the 7 things they did to change their course of history:
1. Leveraged social media
Harnessed the power of short-form content via social media, both on and off the track.
Encouraged drivers like Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso to get active on social and even do track-side live streams, giving fans the up-close and personal view.
2. Drove fans to long-form content
Created some epic documentaries like Drive to Survive as a way to get fans to get an in-depth view of the drama that unfolds in the sport. It also took the sport mainstream which got new audiences attracted to the sport. Classic case of attracting ‘light buyers’.
As Jordan Schwarzenberger once said, “People meet you in the short-form. They start caring about you in long-form”.
3. Created a range of new distinctive brand assets
New logos, new sonic sounds and leveraged powerful celebrity influencers from Will I Am to David Beckham, to keep the brand front of mind and relevant with their fans.
4. Make fans feel special
They went the extra mile to make fans feel a part of the experience, bringing them into the paddock so they could mingle with their favourite drivers. They also offered driving experiences with F1 drivers.
5. Leveraged digital
They created an amazing app and F1 TV which gave fans access like dash cam views of the race and detailed real-time analytics so they could discuss and deliberate team performances with others; forging a community.
6. Put fans in the driving seat
They formed one of the largest esports leagues on the planet so fans could be in the driving seat. And even win huge monetary prizes for the privilege.
7. Expanded the races to new locations
They have been on an expansion spree, taking F1 to new cities and countries. This expands their fan bases and of course fuels new revenue for the sport. The waitlist for tickets to see the race in new locations is insane!
As they say, there are always ten reasons why something amazing almost didn’t happen and F1 could have fallen into this.
It’s an episode we will never forget, we laughed, we were serious, we spoke about so much from imposter syndrome to mistakes along the way.
Have a listen!