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Talking Point: Inclusive/exclusive? F1 takes a new direction in Sponsorship
Bahrain GP 2017
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Apr 2017   |  2:17 pm GMT  |  27 comments

One of the moves this weekend which did not attract widespread coverage in the F1 media, but which could prove significant, was the appointment by F1’s new management of US-based Creative Artists Agency to sell sponsorship rights globally.

This follows the appointment last month of Murray Barnett (ex World Rugby chief commercial officer) as head of sponsorship and former BT Sport head of research, Matthew Roberts, who became the new global head of research.

Under Bernie Ecclestone, sponsorship sales were handled by Ecclestone himself along with Alexander Wooff, who has moved out of the Princes Gate head office and is taking the experience gained over the years of processing deals, like Rolex, Emirates and Heineken, onto a new venture.

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There are a number of specialist agencies in the F1 ecosystem, who have provided leads and brought brands into the sport, like JMI (now called CSM), Right Formula and Prism and these will continue to operate in the space, but the appointment of CAA shows the sport looking to reach further out to see what might be out there as well as to introduce more sophisticated ways of giving sponsors a return on investment.

According to the statement, “CAA Sports will be responsible for taking the Formula 1 brand into new markets and expanding the sponsorship portfolio to include new and innovative commercial partners.

The agency’s work will form a large part of the sport’s strategy to widen Formula 1’s appeal to new audiences across multiple platforms including a big focus on digital opportunities.”

CAA are not new to F1; they have been representing Red Bull Racing for a few years, but the bulk of their experience is in football with Barcelona and the NFL with teams like the San Francisco 49ers as well as venues like Madison Square Garden.

Like many sports, F1 is going through a process of digital transformation, which is turning the existing model of stickers on cars or trackside billboards on its head and is becoming more sophisticated and more content and consumer led. Liberty Media has made fan engagement a central pillar of its strategy and it will be relying on some of the world’s powerful brands to play their part in driving that push; creating content and experiences to engage existing fans and attract new ones.

At the same time, the new F1 management are keen to push into new markets and to broaden the range of sponsors involved in the sport. There is still a long way to go with consumer brands, but Heineken’s arrival last year and the way it goes about using F1 as a platform, is being watched closely by other consumer brands.

Gianluca Di Tondo Heineken F1

One area where F1 management will have to tread carefully is in the degree to which they open F1 up, which in turn diminishes the exclusivity of the rights that existing sponsors have bought, not just the sport’s Global Partners, but also the teams’ sponsors.

F1’s Chase Carey and Sean Bratches see F1 very much as a premium product, in terms of the pricing, but their strategy is to provide better value for money than previously, while making the sport more accessible.

At the same time, F1 will have to work hard to differentiate itself and make its offering attractive, as there are lots of sports properties on the market at the moment – making it something of a buyers’ market – so maintaining premium pricing for that will be a priority.

What do you think of this development? Leave your comments in the section below

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Tornillo Amarillo

Heineken’s arrival last year and the way it goes about using F1 as a platform, is being watched closely by other consumer brands.

James, this sounds fascinating, I would love to know more, an example to understand what is going on, what is the new creative approach from Heineken.


Heineken seemingly don't do things by halves. At the Australian GP they had quite a large area set up im the centre of the park with a plenty of seating and a large branded bar (of course) a few smaller ones to the side and music stage. This included large screens so you could also keep an eye on the other on track action. The bars also had some higher viewing platforms. They had a mixture of artists running afternoon through to the evening from Thursday to Sunday. I don't think their timing was quite right though. Having Rudamental supposably starting on stage at 18:00 just as Q3 was finishing wasn't right for me as the spectacle was still the F1, not a headline act on stage.I did see the later on though and enjoyed it.

This was also a small part of their other on circuit and off circuit activities.

Going broader than F1 though, certainly in the UK I didn't feel that Heineken was a brand many people related or took much notice of. However many of the drinks they consumed was Heineken owned, probably without knowing it.

It is however more noticeable that the Heineken activities across the board have stepped up (middle of 2016 in particular in the UK) I felt) and going in to F1 is the show piece for it. Previously there was Champions League but not so much behind it when it came to being out and about in bars, pubs and restaurants.

One thing i can see coming in the future is the add you see at International England games. On TV you see one set of ads on the boarding, actually being there another. You tend to notice what the ads those who are there are on replays from other angles.

Tornillo Amarillo

Thank for that Brian.
I've watched some Heineken ads on Youtube and they are cool and innovative, really.


Heineken make big use of social media to show long form ads (2 minutes or longer) and get viewers engaged in two way conversations through competitions etc ... all this encourages the viewer to want to keep coming back to what interesting things are on the site, so it makes the viewers want to see more ads. Which is the opposite of the traditional TV ad that irritates the viewer because it's just blasted randomly during the program and interrupts the show. #HeinekenF1 watch the Do you Know Who I Am?

Ricciardo Aficionado

Who has time to watch a two minute ad? Sheesh.
F1 should be taking up that airtime with a real time spycam on a driver livestreaming randomly as he drinks a Heineken at the party he is attending...
Real time product placementZzzz...


" Stickers on cars - if that could be cleaned up that would be amazing. I fully understand sponsorship and commercial advertising, but stickers on cars are out of control. Look at any series of racing, and each car is such a montage of stickers and colors, they sometimes are difficult to distinguish from each other. If the base color could be made representative of the nationality, i.e. the 1950's, that would be great, even in this age of globalism. Even a Renault made in England could have light blue base color, covering a large percentage of the body. While I loved the colors of John Player and Marlboro which changed everything, still the nationalistic theme would be a great change, in my opinion.


While I am all for national colors on cars and enjoy the announcers saying, "Englishman Hamilton and Frenchman Grojean and American Team Haas" my non racing oriented friends always point out it is racist to point out a driver or teams nationality. This will be one of the things the new owners and ad agencies will attempt to eliminate I'm predicting. To me and lots of other people the different countries represented in F1 and MotoGP are what make them the epitome of motorsport. To other people it is just an example of racism and divisiveness they see as politically incorrect.


Think you may find the grid is all one "race" except maybe Hamilton.
Racist is incorrect.
Nationalistic - maybe.

Andrew Halliday

Winfield Williams in 1998 comes to mind. I remember Murray Walker saying it looked like they had loaded a bunch of sponsor logos into a cannon and fired it at the car.


Well there is certainly room for digital growth, One of the attractions to Liberty must've been this huge untapped resource that most industries have been utilising for 10 years plus. its staggering BE didn't when it was putting it on telly (that era's 'digital') that grew the sport and players from niche to riche (sorry).

Maybe it was because he got his fingers burnt with his digital channel or maybe it was just plain old 86 years of age that did it.

Whatever the reasons it will be interesting to see what they do. They will hope to stay blue chip rather than chip shop and there's no easy bucks floating around looking for a home these days

Ricciardo Aficionado

To premium or not too premium.
Why don't they just put Coke on the side of the McLaren and be done with it. It'll tie in nicely with the Coke Zero black can brand and that also keeps everything premium.
F1 has to squeeze itself into a very very very busy schedule of digital attention spectrum. I've only got five minutes for this business during my day and it's lucky that it's the only product I actually engage with otherwise I wouldn't have even heard of Heineken before.
There are two strategies that need planning here. One needs mass glitz and penetration of the mass market and that should be spearheaded by google. (why that hasn't happened yet is why Bernie is out of a job) The second strategy needs to deliver me, the hardcore fan, every single camera angle, sector time, pitstop cam, live timing, press conf streaming, exclusive team principle chats, podium, backroom/after party access on my phone. (But mostly just a hardcore stats and feed package livestreaming for each race...$5.99)
It is 2020 soon.
Between now an then, forever an never in the past will I/have I paid for an enormous volume of TV with only a little drop of F1. HOW antiquated. Two of Bernies main problems. He thought F1 was bigger than it looks on TV and he's antiquated.


Yes, "stickers on cars" are a mess. We all understand why they're there. But, PLEASE, I wish someone with decision making power would lead the argument for big, clearly legible drivers' numbers so that we all know who's behind the wheel. Seriously, is it smart marketing that a sport in which the athlete's head is covered doesn't put big numbers on the "uniform"? Could one imagine that the NFL would allow jerseys without player numbers? Ridiculous.


I absolutely agree. So many numbers are either too small, visible only from above the car (e.g. Red Bull) or apparently missing altogether (Force India).


All professional and semi professional race cars have advertising on them, it's how we pay the bills. Take the stickers of my team's race cars and we couldn't afford to race, it's that simple. Plus there are series advertisers, which without there would be no series to race in. Similarly circuit advertisers, take away their signs and we wouldn't have any circuits to race on. In total motor racing needs stickers, lots of them, and the the advertising revenue it brings.


Hey Gary, what's it like in 1976?


All of the smartest marketing in the world won't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
The first priority for Liberty must be to push and lobby for rules that encourage close racing for multiple teams and drivers.
It looks as if this season may not be a Mercedes walk-over but F1 desperately needs more teams challenging for wins on a regular basis.


The best way to do that would be to spread the money available much more fairly between the teams. At the moment it is quite crazy that the top teams get far more than the lion's share.


It's a 'chicken and egg' situation isn't it.
Do you fix the rules first in an attempt to tighten up the field or do you alter the distribution of funding in the hope that the slower teams will spend the extra money prudently.
I feel, on balance, that rule changes would have a faster effect.
Giving the lower teams extra money would take a few seasons find and employ higher calibre staff to improve car design that would lift them up the grid.
Ideally implement both suggestions and get back to full grids of competitive cars.


The Rules don't need 'fixing' to tighten up the field, they just need to be stable for a long enough period of time. 2019 and 2020 should be pretty tight. Then of course we'll have a new engine for 2021 and the grid is thrown up in the air again. Although hopefully the funding disparity will begin to be resolved.

The worst thing would be more Technical reg changes!!


I like my PayTV, no adds during racing, no banners, no watermarks etc compared to back when we only had FTA TV where we would miss at least 25% of the racing for dedicated, never ending, repetious add breaks. Plus we now get to see all 3 qualifying sessions, also add free and all of practise which we never had before PayTV. As a viewing experience there is no simply comparison. I can also slip watch in HD on an up to date set top box that I don't have to buy and upgrade regularly when technology changes, which it does relentlessly. It's worth every cent to me.

Ricciardo Aficionado

I'm gonna get it!!


"...Alexander Wooff, who has moved out of the Princes Gate head office and is taking the experience gained over the years of processing deals, like Rolex, Emirates and Heineken, onto a new venture."
WOW! James you have got this political correctness thing down! When I first read this line I thought that Wooff had moved to a new office. Upon reading it again I realized he'd been fired.
As one of your countries former colonists I know the power of our businessmen and advertising agencies, I have no doubt they will bring bigger and better sponsorship to F1, whether or not that is beneficial remains to be seen. American businesses that sponsor sports in this country can be quite demanding.


You know, in terms of sponsorship, there is one company that F1 needs to do a deal with that would be huge for them and provide life long fans...


What better way to get kids into F1 than have official Lego sets that span all the way from Duplo, through their intermediate sets, and then into Technic. Kids could play with their F1 Lego sets, get really into it and then move onto Technic where they could enjoy building better representations of the cars and this could get them interested in engineering at school and provide more talent to the technical side.

I have two of the sets that were produced a few years ago, the Scuderia Ferrari Team Truck and the McLaren garage set....and god I want more of it. I love putting that stuff together and can imagine so many adults and kids who would as well.

As a technical sport all about building the best race cars....it would be brilliant brand synergy and beneficial to all ages of fans. Its the kind of left field thing they should be looking at.


This subject is very Interesting.
On rich and mature markets F1G has to convince the cable/open TV broadcaster to allow some internet streaming, so no real "exclusivity".
Considering that in 3rd word countries most of internet access is done by mobile phones, if F1G wants to make it popular worldwide these racing fans must be embraced.
In the other hand most mobile plans have internet quota.
The problem is they provide audience but low consumer power, like it happens in Brazil.
People can consume cheap products with no problem - beverage, grosseries, personal care products, etc.
About Premiun products, today's dreamer is tomorrow's consumer.


Make F1 too expensive to watch on pay TV and it won't matter what brands are involved.


I beleave F1 is one of the only racing sports watched worldwide so any improvement made through advertising properly should taken

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