Meet the Formula 1 Marketing Strategy that brought it out of the sporting shadows. Formula 1 or better known as F1, is an entity attached to the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and is the one that carries out the Formula 1 World Championship, which is the highest category in terms of motorsport competitions worldwide. It is also the most famous and prestigious.
Each race is called a Grand Prix, followed by the name of the place where it will be held. They are held on circuits that are tracks designed and created for that purpose. They use vehicles known as single-seaters, special cars for this type of sport.
Formula 1 is a sport like any other. And even though its origins are pretty old, until recently, it was not the most demanded by the public.
Instead, sports such as baseball, basketball, and soccer are usually people’s favourites. Motor racing wasn’t considered accessible to the public. Thus, people cataloged it as a sport of segmentation and made for “rich people.”
F1 decided to move away from this assumption. They decided to change their digital marketing strategy and come out of the sporting shadows. And you know what? It’s working for them. Read on and find out how they did it.
Origin of F1
The beginnings of Formula 1 racing date back to the year 1880, when the internal combustion engine was manufactured. The first actual race was held on the stretch from Paris to Bordeaux, both going and returning, covering a total distance of 1178 km.
But F1, as we know it today, dates back to 1950, when it was decided to establish regulations to govern this type of competition for drivers, races, and single-seaters. This was intended to group several national races to create the World Drivers’ Championship. The first Formula 1 championship was celebrated that year.
The rise of this sport came in 1970, when Bernie Ecclestone, a British business magnate, took over the operations of F1. He contributed both money and security systems that all motoring levels have welcomed.
Change of ownership and difficulties
In 2016, the American media company Liberty Media became the owner of Formula 1. They are the ones who currently manage and operate this championship.
When Liberty Media formally took over the reins of F1, they faced an image and outreach issue, especially regarding the public’s perception of the sport and the organization.
Due to F1’s lack of connection, fans lost interest in it, constantly feeling that they did not have as much access to this sport as they had to others. So, the public stopped watching it, relegating the sport to elites and a select group.
Lack of digital marketing strategy
The problem, mainly, was that F1 did not have a digital marketing strategy.
Since this is a sport where the use of advanced technology is practically a rule, it is ironic that, in terms of media and communication, it was so far behind.
The organization was not dedicated to conducting market research, developing communication strategies, marketing its image, or seeking a connection with fans. Instead, it focused on the economic part that involved securing media and sponsors, which led to a decline in popularity.
Need for a change
Liberty Media selected Chase Carey, a naturalized American businessman born in Ireland, to manage the F1 organization. He was responsible for the management of companies such as Fox, Inc., DirecTV, and News Corporation. And, most recently, former Vice President of 21st Century Fox.
When taking command in 2016, the F1 organization didn´t have a formal department for digital marketing, promotion, sponsorship, and research. What you do not see, you do not know, and you don´t buy in terms of advertising.
For this reason, they saw the need to start applying effective strategies and for each race to become an accessible event for everyone. For this, F1 has been adding different marketing plans to rescue this sport and increase its popularity among the public.
F1 strategies in digital marketing implemented.
Use of understandable language
If F1 is a pioneer in anything, it is in the use of technology and data. As we mentioned, this sport is 100% technical. Thanks to the expected results, each team must be at the forefront of changes and mechanical innovations, so that each single-seater is equipped with the best that each team can acquire during competition seasons.
Thus, because they use very rigid and technical terminology, perhaps a person starting out as a viewer of the races will not fully understand. That is why the organization saw the need to adapt the language to make it more comprehensive for the public.
So, in the narrations, we can expect explanations from the experts about certain aspects of the race, the cars, and circuits, and thus better understand the reason for things during their development.
Presence in digital media
To conquer the younger audience, the organization found it necessary to find a way to engage with them. So, they took the first step through a YouTube channel. It is well known that YouTube, a platform with more than 2.3 billion active users, is home to many young people who consume the content published there daily.
YouTube is one of the great platforms for the kind of content F1 produces, allowing the uploading of long videos in good definition. It also allows interaction from users, making it a perfect channel to offer quality material regarding sports, races, statistics, and analysis.
Instagram, of course
With more than 16 thousand publications, the F1 Instagram account does not disappoint its 19.3 million followers. They are uploading content daily, and through their stories, they are responsible for promoting interaction with users. They bet on well-defined design, fonts and content writing inclined towards humor, in addition to sharing photos and videos of moments for fans that are often unpublished or that cannot be seen on a TV screen. They have managed to position themselves and achieve considerable visibility today.
Although the Formula 1 account doesn’t have a ton of followers compared to others, it certainly doesn’t have to envy anyone else when analyzing its likes and comments, among other statistics compared to other years.
Arrival to streaming
On March 8, 2019, the series Drive to Survive was released through Netflix. It was created in docu-series format about the F1 championship since its 2018 season.
We can affirm that this was one of the strategies that can be called lunges to finish penetrating a specific audience. It is very logical, taking into account that Netflix is currently positioned as one of the platforms with the largest number of subscribers in the world. It has a considerable percentage of users between 18-25 years old. Those who consume the most content are young, and that is the demographic that F1 wanted to cater to.
A series on the most demanded streaming platform, a docu-series about one of the most exciting, dangerous, and exclusive sports in the world, with the scenes that show the drama of the pilots, their rivalries, frustrations, as well as those of each team, what could the public not like with this formula?
It was a winning bet for both companies (Netflix and F1). Since the success achieved has been such that it has already been renewed for a 5th and 6th season when just in March of this year, the 4th season was released.
So, one thing led to another, and those who first got to know the world of F1 on the Netflix screen are now followers on Instagram, and they proceed to tune in on race Sundays and watch the action live.
The rise of F1 had its bulk in Europe, the continent where it was born and where they have seen its evolution. But what about the market in the Americas?
Despite having circuits and grand prizes available from Canada to Brazil, including Latin drivers who have participated and with a current presence with the Mexican Checo Pérez, the Latin audience was not 100% conquered.
Therefore, another strategy that was applied and gave an excellent result was the inclusion of a circuit and a Grand Prix in Miami in the US, a race we enjoyed last May 8th and for which the track was built from nothing and in record time.
Miami is home to many Latino inhabitants, and it is a city in which opulence, luxury, and show are always well received.
Despite the flaws in some details of the organization and infrastructure that could have been overlooked, since it did not really affect the race, the show managed to capture the attention of both the public and the drivers, who were satisfied and in good spirits and returned next year.
In the wake of the Miami Grand Prix, F1 saw an increase in the number of followers on Instagram and increased interest in the sport in general. Perhaps, this was the final blow in conjunction with Netflix.
But there is still a long way to go. We will see the first Grand Prix next year in nothing more and nothing less than the fabulous city of Las Vegas. So, this does not end here.
Hamilton, the golden man of F1
Lewis Hamilton is currently the first driver of the Mercedes Benz and has 7 F1 world championships to his credit. He is on a par with one of the greatest motoring legends, Michael Schumacher.
People think of Hamilton as one of the best drivers of this era. And thanks to this, he is one of the most famous drivers today. He is one of the most coveted, loved, and besieged by fans of this sport, as well as has the quality to attract great personalities in each race.
Previously, it was customary to see some celebrities at the Monaco Grand Prix. The presence of these types of people was much more discreet in other races. However, nowadays, it has become customary to see many famous people making an appearance on F1 Sundays. And one of those responsible for this is Hamilton.
We all know that the British driver can drag artists to each race. People who want to meet him, explore the pit lane, see the cars up close, and take photos. And, of course, have a privileged place to watch the race.
Formula 1 knows this, and for this reason, Hamilton represents an influx of famous people that helps them increase their visibility and continue adding fans.
To briefly understand this formula: Hamilton has power and influence in F1, in addition to dragging in the masses and famous and wealthy people. So, he is a precious asset that will continue to generate income if he remains active, not only economically but also in followers and new fans of this sport.
The work of the teams
Although we have just talked about the importance of Hamilton for F1, we cannot ignore the parallel work that each team does when also applying their digital marketing strategies. The common denominator of all has been the connection with the fans.
Both F1 and the teams have worked to connect with the fans. The fans, in turn, connect with the drivers, who become the stars of the sport.
That is why we have seen, especially during the pandemic, video chats where selected people connected and could speak directly with the pilots, ask them questions, and thus interact with them for a specific time.
Another marketing tactic of each team is the sale of exclusive and original merchandise for each of the pilots. They, in some cases, pull directly on the design of the garments and have their own individual line, as in the case of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo in Mc Laren. It is available in their virtual stores, which we can access through their Instagram accounts.
Is the latest item fresh from the oven? Nothing more than a unique edition flannel from the Monaco Grand Prix held this past Sunday, May 29, where the Mexican Checo Pérez won first place on the podium and was already in pre-order status hours after the end of the event. We do not doubt that the shirt will sell quickly.
Other platforms for access to the world of F1
In addition to all of the above, we also have various podcasts and television programs dedicated to F1, and the mobile application where you have access to news and live to monitor practices, classifications, races, and access sales of entries in each award. This has enhanced interaction with the public.
And yes, F1 is on TikTok.
And along with them, the drivers, teams, and many experts in this sport and fans dedicate their accounts to this sport and news, developments, incidents, analysis, and projections by the event. This helps us better understand this whole world, especially the technical specifications that sometimes are difficult to grasp.
And because this platform is a place where a young audience is the one with the most presence, it is one of the most suitable media for attracting new and younger audiences.
Other F1 income
In addition to the tickets to the event, which starts with the first practice until the race on Sunday, F1 also benefits from the race promoters, who own the circuits (generally) and must pay an average annual fee of 30 million dollars.
Likewise, they dispense with income from broadcasting rights. For sponsorship, it is another income, and brands that dedicate themselves to engaging with the public and registering data to form a database.
Finally, the Paddock Club offers a luxury experience to those who pay for access during their presence at the event, with the possibility of even interacting with a driver, walking along the pit lane, and exclusive photos and food and drinks only for that specific area.
VIP accommodation packages are available for each race through the application, and the access service to the F1 channel in which you can see every one of the races and the previous ones, practices, among others, cancelling a monthly or annual subscription.
It has been the connection with the public and giving importance to the fan and making them feel part of this world, which has generally rescued F1 from the shadow in which it found itself. Knowing how to attract a younger and a different audience to show itself as a sport to which everyone can have access, either in person at the stadium or through the different digital media, has made a considerable difference that aims to increase.
Their strategy has been successful. And as long as they maintain it and implement improvements, their popularity will continue to rise.
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