The following story is the same old story that every sponsorship guy in the F1 Paddock will tell you regarding why brands should partner in F1: it is the pinnacle of motorsport and it is a global sport that runs every single year from March to December.
Fine, everything is right and correct. But it is not enough.
Brands are not affected anymore by the CEO syndrome (when a company sponsors yacht racing because a top executive likes yachting) and marketing executives need to show a positive ROI from almost everything they do. They think more strategically now and decisions are very much based on analytical evidence, that’s why the same old story that I told you above, although true, is not as effective as used to be.
In January 2017, Liberty Media bought F1 and made several changes to a sport that had been untouched in the last 20 years. Those changes now provide unique benefits to brands, making this the right moment for them to enter the sport based on the following reasons:
- The Biggest Annual Global Sport: The season finale in Abu Dhabi was huge with 108.7m viewers more than the SuperBall with the cumulative TV audience for 2021 at 1.55bn, up +4% from the 2020 season.
- Dominating Digital: In 2021, followers were up 40% to 49.1m, video views were up 50% to 7bn and total engagement was up 74% to 1.5bn. The results mean that Formula 1 is outperforming other major sports in the digital arena.
- The American Boom: With 3 races in the US (Austin, Miami, Las Vegas) Formula 1 is the fastest growing sport in the US with a 53% growth YoY and opportunities from brands to activate their partnerships are now superlative.
- 360 Degrees Toolbox for Brands: If forward-thinking brands like Cisco, Oracle, Tommy Hilfiger, AWS, Hilton, Microsoft, Cognizant, Lenovo and Salesforce are pouring millions into the sport, there must be a reason. Whether you are interested in showcasing the technology of your products, developing B2B relationships, creating experiential events for your customers and driving brand awareness globally; a Formula 1 partnership provides all of these assets in one single package.
- Sustainability, Diversity and Inclusion: Whilst racing fuel represents less than 1% of the sport’s emissions, from 2026 the hybrid engines of the F1 cars will be powered by 100% sustainable fuel. Additionally, Formula 1 is taking action to regionalise the calendar which will help improve freight and travel logistics. On the CSR front, F1 invested $1B in their Engineering Scholarships dedicated to underrepresented groups and launched the #WeRaceAsOne initiative to fight racism and inequality.
- Sport’s Value is Going Up: Although the sport is growing strongly with media and sponsorship deals coming in every week in and week out, it is not at its full potential yet. New markets are set to become part of the calendar and new generations of fans are approaching just now the sport. This means that the sport is not as expensive as it will be in the next few years and this is the moment to get involved.
As such, a Formula 1 partnership is definitely the must-have marketing tool for a brand today, but selecting the right team, the right assets and the right investment is a very challenging task, that’s why at Drive we guide brands in the ecosystem to ensure they sign a strategic and meaningful partnership.