Brand management in professional sports: The case of F1

As a fan of Formula 1 i have for a number of years now witnessed how relatively poorly the sport is at managing social media. It seems like the social media strategy of FOM (Formula One Management; the managing body of F1) is that of absolute control of any type of media from F1 events. This reached some sort of apex last week when Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean was reportedly told by FOM to remove content that he had posted on his own fan page.

Fans are of course outraged by these type of control-all antics, and rightfully so. I can personally look at other professional sporting leagues that i follow on a regular basis

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where the strategy is completely different. The American pro-basketball league NBA is a great example here, where the comissioner himself is an active user of Instagram and twitter and actually encourages fans to post their content from games on social media. This, to me, is a league that understands the new times we live in and what it means for your brand management and how you leverage it for the benefit of the organization in terms of a growing fan base.

FOM needs to accept the new digital marketing era where social media reigns supreme. They need to handle collaborative marketing, that consumers are an element part of creating the brand and not completely ignore their fan base believing that they still hold absolute control over the meanings of the F1 brand. If they fail to heed this call they will undoubtedly face decimated audiences in the future to come, and the sponsors will eventually follow suit.

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