This is where I'm going to give you all the real reasons sponsoring a race car team is great for most brands. I work across various different sports and there are some excellent sports out there which offer valuable marketing opportunities but I'll focus on motorsports for now. When I talk to some brands I'm surprised how little they know about motorsports sponsorship and what can be achieved. I know there are a myriad of sports, teams, properties and ways for brands to spend their marketing dollars but car racing offers some very unique deliverables that few can match. I'm going to specifically focus on open wheel racing in the universe of INDYCAR, Formula 1 and even Formula E. If you're a marketing leader for a company the first question you have to ask is: have you been to a car race? If not, then turn on the turbo and get to one.
Here are my main reasons why car racing is one of the very best platforms for sponsorship.
Growth- INDYCAR is seeing it's best viewership growth in 19 years with an average of almost 1.2 million viewers. INDYCAR also has a new multiyear agreement with juggernaut NBC so the commitment is there. Formula 1 had a cumulative TV audience of 1.55 billion in 2021with an average of over 70 million viewers per race. Their Austin race in 2021 had the largest ever crowd for a race with 400,000 spectators across three days. Formula E is seeing 32% year over year growth with 25% audience growth in the US alone. Motorsports is in an upswing. Netflix is signed on to two more seasons for Drive to Survive so marketers are bullish for a few years to come.
B2B/Hospitality- Deals are nurtured at the race track is what I've learned and when I was just starting out in motorsports sponsorship my colleague told me to just get them to a race when meeting about a prospect. Not only is the immense speed and action thrilling but the networking environment for the C suite is unmatched. There aren't loads of assistants blocking introductions, the ties are off and the decision makers are there to enjoy the race and network. You say you're a tech company and want to sell into the Fortune 500....if you're sponsoring a team introductions to executives are much easier to be made. Companies can even get a dedicated team staffer to facilitate those introductions. There are many companies which don't even care about the logo on the car but just want to be in the hospitality suite to network. Companies have three full days plus evening events to foster relationships with the right people.
Eyeballs- Obviously you do have the race car, the drivers suit and the helmet to make a companies brand sticky with the audience. Consumers are 164% more likely to make a purchase from an athlete endorsement than from a general advertisement and the cars/drivers have hours of consistent visible airtime.
Storytelling- The big buzz word in marketing now but motorsports is just so authentic in telling stories about how brands can bring their offerings to life. Think about a race team with 500-1000 employees all who have to share data day in and day out across divisions. In this tech company example you can demonstrate how a global trotting F1 team achieves efficiency, better results and success with that tech stack. Also, I always love the Heineken messaging as well in F1 where they promote responsible drinking alongside their F1 campaigns. Formula E has done a smashing job partnering with brands who have a sustainability ethos and many companies have taken advantage by creating organic content alongside either the FE series or teams. With more automobile manufacturers going electric many top names have attached themselves to an FE team to push the EV narrative.
Customer Engagement- Racing allows brands to create some pretty unique customer engagement programs. By sponsoring a team you can get passes to visit the garages, pits, meet/greets with drivers and access to VIP suites. Brands can take these opportunities to create a raffle, lead gen program or some contest with the winners given these 'money can't buy experiences' through the brands partnership with the team. A brand can even tie in a licensing deal to the sponsorship which would allow them IP rights to create team branded merchandise. Not only is this a great promotional tool but now it's a revenue generator as well.
Hit me up with questions, comments or insights. As always, thanks for reading!