formula 1

Creating Content that Matters with Ellie Norman

Event review

It is a known fact that each generation digests content differently. This is due to what we are exposed to, advances in technology and how content opportunities are evolving.

This month, The Marketing Society had an engaging discussion with Ellie Norman from Formula 1, to explore what content for the younger generation and more casual fans would look like and the importance of building sport characters, especially as the world of physical and virtual events is constantly evolving. 

I have to admit, I’ve never actually been to a Formula 1 race in person, but I used to watch Michael Schumacher on TV with my brother as a little girl. It was better than some cartoons. The need for speed, the fascination about the sport and the dedication of these sportsmen were factors that drew me in. So when I saw that Ellie would be speaking, I wanted to hear more about what the brand was doing today. Turns out, they are doing things the little girl in me would have never imagined – virtual meet and greets with racers, a Netflix TV Show and more importantly having conversations about causes that matter

My key takeaway from the discussion was that marketers need to find common ground for the brand and audiences so that they can make a human to human connection. Without this, the racers are just seen as sportsmen on TV. Building that connection between racers and the audience is what brings in new fans and showcasing authenticity is what locks them in. 

Here were the insights from the session:

Be culturally aware

As a sport with global fans, you need to touch on topics that are relatable on a human level across cultures, but also be aware that you present equal opportunities as much as possible. Sports are tribal, so you need to be able to connect to different nationalities.

You can’t just use a cookie cutter approach to make a change

It was essential for the team to come back to the drawing board and think about what they want the future of the sport and fandom to look like. To do this, they needed to make a change in the usual way of doing things and take a risk, whether for a documentary, getting involved with esports or live events.

It’s ok to relinquish control for the sake of authenticity

Netflix was given full editorial control of Drive to Survive, which ultimately provided accessibility to a sport that is seen as elitist or predominantly white and male. Through the docu-series, new and old audiences were able to follow the lives of drivers, their managers and teams in different cities including Barcelona, Austin, Abu Dhabi and Monaco, giving them a different perspective of the sport.

Communicate with purpose

While the core set of values that continues to give younger fans permission to follow a sport that it is intoxicating and mixed with danger, it is important to share what the brand stands for. Formula 1 launched the #WeRaceAsOne initiative in 2020 to bring attention to challenges of COVID-19 and global inequality. 

Marketers have a responsibility

As communicators on behalf of some of the world’s leading brands, it is important to raise awareness for change required on a global perspective, and to do so with integrity. We can all work as one, brands versus global issues. 



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