Brand management in professional sports: The case of F1

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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.

The new era in Formula 1 has officially begun!

So this weekend the time had finally (finally!) come to indulge in one of my all time favourite past-times; formula 1 racing! The winter wait has been long and cornered with lively speculation about the radically new regulations that F1 governing body FIA put in place for the 2014 season. Gone are the days of V8 and V10 engines as we now enter an era with turbo charged 1.6L V6 engines with vastly advanced energy recovery and electric hybrid systems. Ever since the testing sessions from Bahrain and Jerez earlier this year when we first got to hear the new F1 power units the internet has been lively with opinions about the sound of this new page in Formula 1 history. Many seem to think that the new sound isn’t loud enough, or that it’s just plain wierd. I for one do like it, and above all i like the way the cars are now a handful to master with high level of low-end torque that the turbo provides. You have to know how to drive in order to succeed in these new cars, there is no doubt about it.Image

The season opener in Melbourne, Australia yesterday was a fantastic race altogether. Sebastian Vettel’s dominance since last years was broken swiftly with engine troubles (retired) and in the front we instead saw Mercedes and McLaren, although Redbull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo managed a 2nd place (later disqualified on technical gounds).

What makes me happy on a personal level is that the Williams team look strong for this season. I’m a long time Kimi Räikkönen fan (being a finn and all), and it’s really nice seeing Valtteri Bottas being competitive in the Martini Williams this season. In the end he had to settle for the 6th spot after having an encounter with the concrete wall resulting in a right-rear puncture.

F1 has never been as thrilling as it is now. Can’t wait for the Malaysian GP in two weeks time!

A run down of the results from Melbourne this weekend:

2014 FORMULA 1 ROLEX AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pts
1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 57 1:32:58.710 3 25
2 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 57 +26.7 secs 4 18
3 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 57 +30.0 secs 10 15
4 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 57 +35.2 secs 5 12
5 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 57 +47.6 secs 15 10
6 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 57 +50.7 secs 7 8
7 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 57 +57.6 secs 11 6
8 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 57 +60.4 secs 6 4
9 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 57 +63.5 secs 8 2
10 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 57 +85.9 secs 16 1
11 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 56 +1 Lap 13
12 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 56 +1 Lap 20
13 4 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 55 +2 Laps 17
NC 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 49 +8 Laps 18
Ret 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 43 ERS 22
Ret 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 29 ERS 21
Ret 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 27 Oil pressure 19
Ret 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 3 Power unit 12
Ret 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2 Engine 1
Ret 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 0 Accident 9
Ret 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 0 Accident 14
DSQ 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 57 +24.5 secs 2

Note – Ricciardo originally finished second but was excluded after his car was found to have exceeded the maximum permitted fuel flow rate