During the US Grand Prix, Insider spoke to Lenovo and F1 about the development and future of the sport.
The new world of partnerships often goes beyond advertising and benefits both parties.
Formula 1 has to keep up with Netflix’s Drive to Survive, and technology will play a big role.
The impact of Netflix and the Formula 1 documentary series Drive to Survive is real. Keep in mind the following:
There were 22 Formula 1 races last year, one in the United States.
Three of the 24 races next year will be held in the United States.
Most tickets for the 2017 US Grand Prix were bought after qualifying on Saturday because they just wanted to see Justin Timberlake in concert.
In 2021, with 400,000 people in Circuit of the Americas, things have changed since the vast majority of fans attended the various F1 sessions (training, qualifying, etc).
And it’s not just the US, when Formula 1 returned to Melbourne, Australia this year for the first time since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it recorded its highest attendance ever (420,000). According to F1, 40% of entries went to women, a significant increase they said was due to the effect of Drive to Survive.
As the sport resonates with more fans and an ever more diverse audience, it is also attracting more and more partners.
One example of this is F1’s new deal with Lenovo, a Chinese tech company with a large presence in the United States.
During the recent US Grand Prix, Insider spoke with Lenovo’s Head of North America Marketing Gerald Youngblood and Formula 1 Business Partnerships Director Zara Al Qudsi.
Lenovo has found a stronger presence in sports in recent years. In addition to this year’s new F1 deal, which includes title sponsorship for two races (the British Grand Prix and the French Grand Prix), they have the Ducati Lenovo MotoGP team and a sponsorship agreement with Italian football club Inter de Milan.
And Lenovo’s presence in F1 will increase, with a source telling Insider they will be the main sponsor for three races in 2023.
We don’t know what Lenovo will add to racing in 2023 (Las Vegas), but they’d like to increase their presence in the US at some point, citing the sport’s growing influence in North America and continued strength around the world.
“This is a unique partnership where we can have the same impact in all areas [where our customers live and work],” Youngblood told Insider. “I’d like to have a shop here in the States sometime.”
The F1 deal with Lenovo is a reflection of the sport and its fans.
The Lenovo F1 deal is about more than just buying trackside ad space. It also provides various computer systems, servers, and high-performance computing. The reason for the partnership with F1 is closely related to the growth of the fans and the fans themselves.
“We found that F1 fans are more likely to be technology buyers and IT decision makers,” Youngblood said. “They are also more likely to share the technology they use on social media.”
There is also a growing perception, especially in the United States, that Formula 1 is the pinnacle of innovation.
“What could be a more special sport than Formula 1 that really depends on a brand?” The blood young man said. “There are also many practical benefits in integrating our brand with other brands that share a passion for innovation and have an audience that can appreciate the story Lenovo tells.”
This perception of F1 is not new to its die-hard fans, but also to the corporate world. Five years ago, F1 had a technical partner. In addition to Lenovo, F1 now partners with several technology companies, including AWS, Zoom, TATA Communications and BWT.
“The growth we have received in the field of technology cooperation is tremendous,” Al-Qudsi said. “I think that applies to us as well, because the employees also work with our partners’ products. This is something we’ve been good at historically. Our partnership [with Lenovo] definitely has that element. But it’s also about the real stories you see now in Drive to Survive.
Going beyond Drive to Survive advances the story
A subtle but important part of the comments above is the idea of telling a “story”. Spend enough time marketing businesses these days, and you’ll know that “story” is an important part of getting your message across to consumers, whether they’re buying computers or playing sports.
This is where the will to survive comes in.
With the Netflix series, F1 has used a great way to tell the story of F1 that other sports are beginning to emulate. But, as with any television vehicle, interest in the show will fade or even disappear at some point. The key to Formula 1 is finding a way to maintain that momentum, which includes continuing to tell fans exciting stories, old and new, on Netflix and beyond.
Unlike other major sports broadcast by TV channels or cable companies, F1 runs its own “We are very keen on how the Drive to Survive story is addressed and featured in our own global feed, or what we do on YouTube, our Twitter content or our podcasts,” Al Qudsi said. “It’s about making sure we’re the best storytellers, engaging the audience in Drive to Survive and keeping them engaged.”
Youngblood agreed, noting that he’s one of those fans now obsessed with something other than a Netflix series.
“I think the audience is starting to understand,” Youngblood said. “It’s as if I get up at ridiculous hours to watch the races and see the impact of technology that will make things more exciting and bring me closer to the experience, so not everyone needs to be physically on the track, but they can participate.”
Reaching a local fan base is essential to keeping the Drive to Survive momentum going.
Youngblood’s comment about the lack of fans on the track is important to F1. Although race attendance is high worldwide, these people make up a small portion of the sports fans.
F1 estimates it has 500 million fans around the world. Of those, only 1% will actually compete, and Al Qudsi noted that technologies like Lenovo are used in sports to communicate with the other 99%.
So, as Lenovo approaches the end of its first year in F1, what’s next and how will they continue to drive the story forward and connect with fans at the races, and most importantly, at home?
According to F1 and Lenovo, you’re probably excited about augmented and virtual reality systems.
Watching F1 races on TV is great. But after attending so many races, it’s clear that the standard TV experience doesn’t match the quality of the sport.
No matter what you think about the speed, sound, smell, power, talent of drivers who control rockets on wheels – living in them is impressive many times over. If AR and VR can bring this experience closer to non-racing enthusiasts, then everyone will win.
Read the original article on Insider