F1 sponsorship strategies change

18 March 2013

LONDON: Several large commercial partners of Formula 1 – such as Burn, Sky and BlackBerry – are using the motor racing competition to reach consumers, marking a shift away from its business-to-business roots.

Many sponsors of the sport traditionally focused on business-to-business relationship building, with brand exposure limited to logos on cars and trackside billboards.

"There are a lot of B2B campaigns in Formula One but you're never going to get major activation campaigns from them," Carsten Thode, director of consulting at Synergy Sponsorship, told Marketing Week.

And he suggested that the arrival of new sponsors like Burn and BlackBerry could indicate that this is about to change. "As these brands start taking more risks with their budgets, things will start to move in the right direction," he said.

But he did not expect an overnight swing, pointing that "it will take time to change the thinking of brands who have been involved with the sport for years".

BlackBerry, the smartphone brand, aims to use its $12m deal to exploit the popularity of motor racing in the emerging markets of India and Brazil.

It will also be using Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, drivers for the Mercedes AMG Petronas team, in various "content-orientated projects".

Burn, an energy drink from Coca-Cola, is using social media to reach fans as part of a wider strategy that the brand claims will "incorporate art and music in a way that will break the conventions of traditional Formula 1 sponsorship marketing".

Sky Sports F1, which broadcasts the sport in the UK, is shifting its marketing strategy to using brand advocates to promote its offering. The idea, said a spokesman, "is to use some of the positive vibes of the people who watched our coverage last season to try to convince non-customers to purchase the product."

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff