Sonder | How Formula 1 is leveraging owned media
Formula One has set out to reinvent itself as a sport. In doing so it is unlocking the power of its owned media assets. Here's how...
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How Formula One is growing from the inside out

How Formula One is growing from the inside out

Often when monster news cycles dominate the media (cricket cheats, data cheats, social cheats…) smaller, less titillating stories can get missed. Such may be the case with an interview Marketing Week UK did with the Commercial Director of Formula One, Sean Bratches (read here). It’s a refreshing take on how a Commercial Director can take a strategic approach to redefining a brand and in the process unlock new growth.

Traditionally, the F1 business focused on revenues from TV deals and race hosting fees. Liberty Media (the owners of F1) recognise the opportunity to create a more expansive customer experience that unlocks and leverages their owned media assets. Bratches approach to achieving this, is to create a customer-centric view of what fans want, then layering this view over the assets at their disposal.

This fits with what we believe is the secret code to creating sustainable owned media assets:

1. Improve the customer experience

2. Attract other brands who will pay to access your audiences

3. Generating highly profitable revenue

The key is you need all three. Two out of three will not be sustainable.

To understand what fans (not regular punters or TV demographic audiences) want, Bratches commissioned qualitative research to get under their skin and find out what they want from F1. With some clear direction from the people who truly matter, they have repositioned F1 to focus on racing, as opposed to speed. It’s a subtle, but crucial distinction. This positioning will be reflected throughout the F1 experience and inform changes to tracks, race team rules, marketing, digital content etc.

Bratches highlighted distinct assets they will be creating and leveraging commercially. “We want to really engage fans through food courts, static car shows, Pirelli show tyres, sponsor activations, merchandise sales. And three of the four will have live show car runs with F1 cars ripping up and down the streets of the city.”

It seems this 60+ year old business is becoming a thoroughly modern commercial organisation. It’s a model that many non-media businesses can learn from because, at its core, F1 is creating growth from the inside-out.