With a decline in following and negative perceptions impacting both brand and business, 2018 was a seminal year for Formula 1. The brand mission to “unleash the greatest racing spectacle on the planet” was realised for the first time as we reignited love for F1 with fans old and new.
When Liberty Media acquired Formula 1 in 2017 the sport was struggling to recruit fresh blood; viewer numbers were in decline and fans were getting older. Even the fans that had stuck with F1 were less engaged and the sport was widely perceived as inaccessible and “boring”.
For a long time F1 had put the needs of fans second to the serious business of making money and the fan experience had suffered as a result. To reverse the long-term decline and bring in 100MM new fans by 2022 we needed to put the fans first and at the heart of F1.
Quantitative studies put ‘speed’ as the no.1 driver of appeal and speaking to fans seemed to verify that. Repeatedly fans would cite speed as being the hook for their love of the sport. But F1 was faster than it had ever been and yet fans were saying it wasn’t as thrilling to watch. So we dug deeper into what fans love about F1, what was lacking and what they felt it had lost. Reading between the lines we realised that what fans really love about F1 isn’t the speed as they said, it was the racing. It’s the raw energy of competition, the human drama in the rivalry. Speed feels cold, technical, bloodless; whereas racing is passionate, gritty and dangerous. Most of all it’s human. To bring more people into F1 we needed to bring out the human side of the story and dial up the racing.