In Formula 1, Formula1

Just hours before the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix, the first round of the 2023 season, the Formula 1 is launching the “Formula 1 Unlocked” platform.

It’s another piece of an already complex fan engagement and content marketing strategy that the world’s most famous four-wheel championship debuts at a key time of the year. F1 Unlocked promises to reserve exclusive content and other unique entertainment tools, such as pre-race analysis, competitions, Live Timing Data, and scouting on merchandise and other purchases, for all of its dedicated fans who want to sign up for the service for free.

Besides the allure of novelty and the satisfaction of some extra content, it is legitimate to wonder why the circus needs to insert yet another piece into an already wide and varied landscape of marketing tools. Bottom line: why take on the commitment of such an operation, especially one offered free of charge to fans?

The answer, in our opinion, lies in two key points for sports marketing: lengthening the fan experiences and database building operations.


A sports marketing question: what happens when you don’t run?

One of the most important questions in modern sports marketing is how to generate value when there are no events on the track or field.

This shift from event-focused sports marketing to sports-marketing-as-a-whole is a radical change in the thinking and practice of those in this profession and a true watershed in the discipline. In this, evidently COVID ‘s experience has been absolutely crucial. In fact, the virus imposed a shutdown of activities that forced operators to wonder how to continue to keep their hardcore fan base and users engaged now that bowls were at a standstill.

Taking the user experience beyond the hours of the race and the game is the new challenge of sports marketing and -consecutively- sports sponsorship as well. In this regard, all the TV series focusing on sports, from Drive to Survive to The Last Dance, but not only. Video games, themed arcades (such as the stunning F1 Arcade in St. Paul’s), dedicated bars, and anything else that helps the fan stay “engaged” is what the game is on today.

A fan who succeeds in satisfying his or her need to be more involved is a fan who spends more time on the properties of the discipline, who is more introduced within the environment of the sport discipline, and who thus rises the so-called “escalator” (the sports marketing theory whereby a consumer, if satisfied, will continue to increase his consumption of sports products and services until he becomes a heavy user).


Database building is the future of sports marketing

To provide us with this exclusive content, these rich contests, and give us access to unique and preview data, Formula 1 Unlocked does not ask us to pay a fee (at the moment), but to sign up with a username and email. Later in the enrollment process, the platform suggests that we also enter our full name, country of origin, and other more specific data to provide us with a more personalized experience.

Personal data is the token to be paid to enter even deeper into the much-loved world of Formula 1, and it unlocks the holy grail of future marketing, namely the construction (or implementation) of the database that will allow new and innovative ways to interact with the fans while bettering the commercial offering of the property.

User information, highly profiled and voluntarily granted, is the most valuable asset for any forward-looking sports property. Through these, not only can tailor-made communications be sent to fans and dedicated buying opportunities be offered, but cross-marketing operations can be initiated with partners that open up a sea of possibilities.

Let us go in order, starting with what is most obvious and likely to be simplest. After I sign up for Formula 1 Unlocked, Formula 1 knows my name and email address. The additional profiling I added later-tempted by the custom offers-let him know that I am a man, Italian, and when my birthday is.

For example, I expect that on my birthday the Formula 1 store will offer me a tasty discount on their products, and those of their licensees. But not only that: from Formula 1 I expect to receive information about tickets or hospitality proposals, just as I am sure that, next year, I will be reminded of the release date of Drive to Survive or the possible opening of an F1 Arcade in Italy…Anything to keep the fans closer, and technology can massively help teams and properties

If these are direct marketing strategies, more interesting are even perhaps cross marketing strategies with partners and stakeholders. Obviously we can only imagine what they might be, but one only has to go and look at what was done between Booking and UEFA during the past European soccer championships to understand the granularity of the transactions that can be done.

In a world flooded with advertising messages, the only ones that get through are those that are highly profiled and based on users’ interests. Full name, age, nationality, profession, interest set, and propensity to buy allow companies to build a highly accurate and potentially commercially explosive profile for themselves and their partners.

The crossing of this information, in logics of collaboration between brands, allows, for example, Playstation to email me, with tragic punctuality for my finances, a few days before the start of the championship, a sneaky discount for the purchase of the video game Formula 1 2022 that -alas- I just could not refuse.

Le immagini di questo articolo sono quelle della pagina Discover Unlocked sul sito di Formula 1
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Emanuele Venturoli
Emanuele Venturoli
A graduate in Public, Social and Political Communication from the University of Bologna, he has always been passionate about marketing, design and sport.
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Showing 2 comments
  • George

    I am disappointed by the tactics of Formula one. “Free” to subscribe is not entirely true. We pay a large privacy fee.

    • Emanuele Venturoli

      We do exchange our thirst for Formula 1 content with their right to market us every now and again. After all, database building is mega in today’s marketing.

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