Formula 1, not to be confused with NASCAR is one of the world’s most recognizable sport racing brands, but was in an unbalanced and unsustainable state when Liberty Media acquired it in 2017. TV audiences were cutting the cord, the fan base dying off, race attendance was at an all time low, and sponsors were dropping left and right flagging a problem that the sport was not ready for the digital age.
Putting Passion Back at the Heart of F1
“We never want to lose the DNA of what makes the sport special, but we want to take it out to new fans. The way we approach that is very much with the mindset of a startup — looking at new channels and new ways to take F1 to different audiences.”
Marketing Formula One in the Fast Lane
With any startup, research is key to a successful product launch.
Prior to Ellie Norman’s arrival to Formula 1, it had no social media, marketing activity or brand building operation to speak of. “I am started from scratch because nothing has come before,” Norman said. “This sport has existed for 69 year and never had a marketing function or someone to market the sport.”
Norman’s 12 month re-brand launch spent 3 months doing research focused on addressing perception issues with proactive communications that break down the barriers between the sport and the fans while also showing new sides of the sport to attract new audiences.
“Big companies don’t lose their edge because of not addressing issues or responding them. They get stuck in their own formula of what success for them looks like,” Norman said.
“One thing we learned from startups is be open to completely disregard the rules and test to see what works and what doesn’t.”
F1 in the Digital Space
With Formula 1 stars like Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, and so many others, it no coincidence Formula 1 has evolved with the culture in record time, two years to be exact.
A mobile application, a social media reach of 23.8 million, a user-friendly website, and a length documentary, Formula 1: Drive to Survive which is currently streaming on Netflix. F1 has even ramped up its efforts across various digital platforms over the past year – most notably in the form of F1 TV and the new e-sports series.
“Since we started this new era, something that has come across very strongly from the fans is that they want to understand about the drivers, Norman said.
“The philosophy of Formula One now is to engage in those areas and make the sport much more special than just what is going on out on the track.”