Magazine article Marketing

Letters

Magazine article Marketing

Letters

Article excerpt

Rallying shows the way for F1

Adam Wylie, managing director, 23red, London W1

It is with great interest that I read the Brand Health Check on Formula One (Marketing, March 7).

Those close to F1 have, for some time, recognised that the sport faces a watershed. The recent action from Melbourne was engrossing, but is the odd nail-biting race enough?

Prost has gone and rumours abound that more teams may go to the wall before the close of the 2002 season. To boot, viewing figures are down and sponsors must be increasingly concerned.

If Graeme Glew and William Perry are to be believed, potential solutions lie in both sporting terms (effectively legislating the sport to reduce pre-eminence) as well as marketing the sport (allowing increased access for all stakeholders).

What's interesting is that the World Rally Championship (WRC), a sport that Bernie Ecclestone only divested himself of 18 months ago, has already made enormous steps in just those directions.

In many ways F1's losses are WRC's gains. It's accessible, closely contested, genuinely hair raising (thanks to the in-car camera technology) and growing fast.

International Sportsworld Communicators (owners of the TV and commercial rights) perhaps had the luxury of virtually starting from scratch, but its real secret has been to develop a seamlessly consistent brand experience, from event, to TV, to web and radio through to gaming.

The launch of the web site (www.wrc.com) with live radio feeds, visuals, course maps and mobile updates have all made the sport as accessible to the average follower as to the team members themselves.

New technology in the form of the Virtual Spectator digital diagnostic tool is set for release at the end of March. It will allow retrospective parallel racing and pin-point post mortem reviews of racing lines and tactics.

These innovations, and others besides, offer the kind of rare consumer engagement and experience that brand owners constantly searching for -- and all of them are accessible to commercial partners.

It is precisely these kind of innovations and channels of choice that Fl needs if it is to retain its supremacy in the medium term.

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