By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) – Formula One is distancing itself further from the Bernie Ecclestone era by launching a paid-for global marketing campaign for the first time.
Former commercial supremo Ecclestone, 87, famously relied on race promoters, teams, sponsors and media to publicize the sport rather than the rights holders themselves investing money in marketing.
A minute-long film ‘Engineered Insanity’, initially rolled out over social media channels from Friday, focuses on the visceral appeal of the sport as experienced by ‘superfans’ inside a wind tunnel.
Ellie Norman, Formula One’s recently appointed director of marketing, told Reuters at Formula One’s gleaming new central London headquarters that teams were supportive of the initiative.
“There is definitely a sense of appreciation that for the first time Formula One is promoting the sport and the series itself,” she said.
“The teams work incredibly hard from their team and driver perspective but there has not been something from Formula One that promotes the series.”
A multi-platform campaign will accompany next week’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne before spreading around the world.
Norman said the aim was to develop the campaign through the 21-race season, making it more real-time and reactive.
“One example would be that in-between every race there is a new edit, a 30 second piece of film that is created that starts to take the key moments from the race before and plays that back almost as a snapshot.
“It’s literally to keep people engaged with Formula One,” she said.
Before U.S.-backed Liberty Media took over in January last year and moved Ecclestone aside, Formula One made headlines almost as much through regular storms and controversies as track action.
Liberty have been less newsworthy and more discreet, one of their first actions being to build up a marketing department. Last year they ditched the old F1 logo for a more digitally-friendly version.
Formula One is planning fan festivals in four cities — Shanghai, Marseille, Berlin and Miami in the week of those countries’ races to build awareness.
Unlike last year’s pre-British Grand Prix London Live event, when cars performed burnouts on the streets of London, there will be no attempt to get all 10 teams and drivers to participate.
“We’ve had really positive pickup from a number of teams that want to come and either do static cars, bring team members down, live demo runs,” said Norman. “That depends on logistics, availability.
“I’m really positive with how the teams are…working closely with us.
“I think they also understand with the growth of all their social channels and engagement from fans, that actually if we all work together in some of these elements it’s good for the sport everywhere.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Nick Mulvenney)