This week marks the end of summer break for all of the F1 teams. Everyone is back on preparing for another Grand Prix on August 27th in the Netherlands. Talking about Formula 1, there are many interesting topics that we could start from. One of the most interesting and also crucial about F1 is actually their marketing strategy. F1 is a marketing driven sport that relies on funds raised through sponsorship and marketing to support the sport financially. Though being the most famous motorsport in the world, F1 faced a turbulence in gaining the audience’s attention and outreach to audiences back in early 2010s. Before 2016, fans engagement was constantly declining with many fans complaining about limited access to F1 on digital platforms.
But things took a turn when Liberty Media purchased F1 and started to solve problems surrounding lack of interest in the audience. Before Liberty Media came to the stage, there was no formal marketing, promotion, sponsorship, or research departments. Under the hand of Chase Carey, the new appointed lead for F1, F1 pivoted to enter digital marketing. There were a lot of digital marketing strategies involved to overcome the ongoing struggles, for example the usage of social media. F1 started to be more active on various social media platforms, such as instagram, twitter, youtube, and recently on tiktok. The contents varied from fun and interesting challenges or questions for drivers to educational knowledge on F1. In the world of Formula 1, a plethora of technical terms are employed—such as ‘apex,’ ‘DRS,’ ‘flatspot,’ and more—that might seem overwhelming to casual viewers. For this reason, F1 started to create educational content about these terminology. Not only that, they would share unpublished photos or moments that were not shown on tv screen. All of these activities on social media were a success to generate old fans and new fans attention to the sport.
Another marketing strategy used in gaining new viewers interest to the sport was by entering Netflix with a docuseries called “Drive to Survive”. The series portrayed behind the scenes of constructors and drivers to win the championship. Stories and dramas told in the series were able to appeal to new viewers into the sport. The series was such a success that it was already planned to shoot for six seasons. These narratives proved success to drive a new wave of younger generation fans to the surface.
The decision to integrate digital marketing into the sport proved to be a resounding success. Following the launch of its marketing campaign in 2017, Formula 1 witnessed an impressive 209 percent surge in sales compared to the fan base before the initiation of the social media push. Beyond that, a substantial influx of new fans, comprising 61 percent within the under-35 age group and 25 percent aged between 16 and 24, revitalized the sport. This surge in young fans not only renews hope for sustained popularity but also ensures the continual growth of the sport’s fanbase.