Category: Blogs and Opinion
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A Swing and a hit: Why the European Tour’s UK Series should be an annual event

Chris Bovey, Head of Partnerships at Right Formula

While the attention of global golf media might be on the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship this weekend in Illinois, the final event of the European Tour’s inaugural UK Golf for Good Swing gets underway closer to home at The Belfry.Installed in the middle of the Tour’s season as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic, benefiting both players and brands, I believe the UK Swing should stay.

Golf is a complicated stakeholder landscape. Explaining to brands which events are owned by which organisation and how some players can occasionally play in European Tour events without necessarily holding a card, can put them off before a ball has been struck.

In crises, change is often a necessity. In January 2020, the European Tour was due to host 34 events across five continents. With a season in tatters, the UK Swing was born, presenting brands and golfers alike a chance for exposure they wouldn’t previously have had.Between July and August, some 140+ golfers have competed over six events across the breadth of the UK. A collective prize pot in excess of £6m has been up for grabs, with more than 100 hours of live coverage available to viewers on Sky Sports Golf.

Despite the absence of spectators, the prevailing industry sentiment has been overwhelmingly positive.Whilst high profile Ryder Cup stars like Rahm, Rose and Poulter have remained in the USA – some of the lesser-known names like Horsfield and Langasque – and subsequently their sponsors – have benefitted from increased exposure and attention.Despite the name suggesting a continental presence, the European Tour hosts events worldwide, so sponsorship in theory appeals to brands who have customers globally. The UK Swing however has demonstrated that localised sponsorships can provide value for money solutions for sponsors who can geo-target their audiences.


While sponsoring a one-off event is not new, brands who have a specific focus can benefit hugely from the number of properties in golf currently available on a local, targeted basis. What’s more, the sponsorship fees are a whole lot more attractive now than they were this time last year!

At Right Formula, for years we have been the intersect between brands and rightsholders by helping connect the two and activating partnerships that mutually benefit all stakeholders.

Take one of our clients, Loch Lomond Whiskies, as an example. At the turn of the year, the distiller was a partner of The Open and Women’s British Open’s, giving exposure to the Scottish brand for two summer spikes. We helped broker an agreement for Loch Lomond Whiskies to sponsor the UK Swing which presented an opportunity to give even greater long-term relevance to their target audiences in a key market. This was particularly important this year, given the cancellation of the marquee men’s Major.

If I was in the corridors of power at European Tour I would ensure that the UK Swing remains each year. One only needs to see the popularity of the Desert Swing or lesser realised Links swing to see proof of the concept in hosting a regional mini-series.Not only would this garner greater local media and fan attention it will encourage local sponsors to invest and create a buzz while the golf circus rolls into town. Even more so when spectators are able to return on course.


So whilst all eyes will be on the power hitters of McIlroy, DeChambeau and Johnson this weekend in the States, the smart view in the UK will be on our iconic Sutton Coldfield course for the final event of a series that I hope is here to stay – a testament to The European Tour.

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Opinion: Why F1’s positive CSR movements should no longer come as a surprise

STEVE WRIGHT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Few sports have done more than Formula 1 to enforce change for the better in recent times. Arguably, none have, which may still come as a surprise to many.

Whether it was assisting in the build of life-saving ventilators during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, announcing its plan to have a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030 or introducing the #WeRaceAsOne initiative to improve inclusion and diversity across the board, the sport has made no shortage of important strides that have generated news headlines in the last six months.

It’s not just Formula 1 as an entity making moves, either. The constructors themselves are too paving the way for a more sustainable, all-encompassing incarnation of the sport we love.

Mercedes’ new black livery for the 2020 season – another signal of commitment to greater diversity and inclusion in motorsport – has been at the forefront of those statements. McLaren have also instilled rainbow-coloured streaks on their chassis, as a “universal symbol of unity, solidarity and hope”.

Once considered behind the times and out of touch with an ever-changing world, Formula 1 and all involved with it are now setting the standards for positive change across global sport and society.

But for those who remain surprised by it, perhaps needn’t be. There has been plenty of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives being executed for a while.

 

Take Williams’ Advanced Engineering, who helped introduce energy saving Aerofoil refrigeration to major UK supermarket Sainsbury’s back in 2017. 

Initially technology that was created to divert air over and around race cars to maximise performance, these days it helps prevent the waste of cold air, which now directs back into the units. This innovative, F1-inspired concept not only keeps aisles warmer and reduces food waste, but has helped Sainsbury’s record a 15% energy saving across its nationwide stores.

Elsewhere, McLaren have provided data management, predictive analytics and simulation assistance to clinical research firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for nearly a decade. Their contribution helps explore and understand new compounds more comprehensively, allowing GSK to reach swifter, better informed decisions about its medicine discovery processes.

The sport’s ability to initiate technology that later improves lives even extends to the treatment room, where data systems evolutionised  from Formula 1 can now continuously monitor patients in intensive care wards and improve operational procedures. 

On track, it’s no different. Since a shake up in the rules for 2014, Formula 1 engines now boast 20% more power, yet produce 26% less in the way of CO2 emissions. Overall, they’re 10% more efficient – a seismic figure considering it’s been achieved in just six seasons.

Such progress has also made its way to the road cars of the participating manufacturers, and taken on other forms to power city transport, buildings and businesses. A greener sport, lighting the way for a greener everyday life.

For good measure, F1-derived technology across 5G infrastructure now drives complex road, rail, underground and even air transportation systems around the world – ensuring maximum efficiency for highly-complex logistical demands.

As someone who’s worked in and around the sport for constructors, brands and agencies for many years, I’m proud that Formula 1 continues to be at the forefront of thought leadership, innovations and CSR efforts.

Too often branded as the world’s most expensive and glamorous exhaustion of fossil fuels, it is doing much more in the way of implementing change than that of many of its critics. 

While the events of 2020 have undoubtedly helped lift the lid on these good news stories to a greater extent – and even shown how it can do more – make no mistake, the goodwill of the paddock has long been at play.

Roll on the racing in Spielberg this weekend, where Formula 1 returns an even better sport.

 

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Gallery: Right Formula staff take part in ‘Doorstep Challenge’

It’s been a tough three months, but there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. 

Shops and restaurants are starting to reopen, live sport is set to return to our TV screens and week by week the government is gradually easing the restrictions that have kept us working and isolating at home during COVID-19.

Like everyone else, our team at Right Formula has felt the strain of the pandemic, so to keep spirits high we recently took part in a ‘Doorstep Challenge’ in support of the NHS with photographer Glenn Dunbar.

The challenge was simple: Glenn spent two days travelling to the homes of Right Formula staff in and around London, tasked with taking pictures of them on their doorsteps with their families, pets and anything else that helped explain what lockdown has encapsulated for them.

And the results were fantastic, as you can see in the gallery below.

 

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“What a great way to spend a couple of days, taking pictures of the Right Formula team and finding out how they’ve been keeping busy during lockdown,” said Glenn of the challenge. “The weather wasn’t the best, but in between dodging the rain and stopping my photographic umbrella from flying away, I managed to capture some great shots.

“Standout points were shooting a sea kayak, photographing the next Lewis Hamilton and getting parents to hang their kids upside down!”

For every member of staff who took part in the Doorstep Challenge, Right Formula donated £5 to the NHS Charities Together initiative to help support the staff, volunteers and patients currently tackling the Covid-19 crisis. Keep an eye out on our social media channels over the coming weeks for the stories behind the pictures of our Right Formula staff.

 

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Q&A: The changing landscape of commercial activity amid COVID-19

By Luke Organ, Managing Director – Commercial

Right Formula’s Managing Director of Commercial, Luke Organ, opens up on the impact COVID-19 has had on his department’s work with clients across brands and rights holders.

Q: What are some of the key challenges the current pandemic is having on a commercial department operating in the Sports and Entertainment industry?

In this climate, the challenge is almost exclusively being able to: a) capture attention, and b) convince budget holders to spend. If the value proposition and solution being presented are not well thought through, then it would be fair for commercial teams to expect to receive some fairly blunt responses from the market place at present.

Everyone talks about the need for the sponsorship landscape to change its approach in valuation and activation methodologies. That’s a given and, frankly, if we’re not thinking in this manner, then I quite often refer back to Henry Ford when he said: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” 

The value points of Sport and Entertainment remain true on the whole and will largely be unaffected by COVID-19. However, this environment is mandating the change in approach by commercial departments to a much greater effect.

In today’s world, the lack of traditional assets focuses minds on following the vast majority of marketing spend into digital routes. Digital and marketing teams must now work harmoniously with – or as part of – commercial departments to service all stakeholders needs. Value propositions and purchase cycles must be at the heart of all commercial thinking in order to achieve quantifiable and measurable business outcomes for partners. 

Q: What challenges are you facing that relate specifically to work with brands?

As brands consider their investment in the sporting field, or for those who are considering investing in the same, the challenge will be to find the rights holder who can address how they will help the brand ultimately achieve its objectives.

More developed markets and verticals want to focus on latter stages of the purchase cycle – the trigger opportunities, the drive to conversion and the affinity and advocacy for their brands. 

Rights holders still build out their valuation stack utilising traditional media returns and tangible assets, while seemingly ignoring industry trends that show more than 70% of global marketing budget is directed towards digital activities, with a view to driving conversion and advocacy.

Brands must be able to locate the right partner who can support in an aligned manner. In the recent 2020 Global Marketing Trends Report by Deloitte, they identify that purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow on average three times faster than their competitors. Now, how many rights holders in Sport and Entertainment lead with a clear purpose and conviction to their raison-d’etre? Authenticity to this strategy is paramount and while brands continue to do more around purpose-led initiatives, Sport and Entertainment has some way to go to as a whole to catch up. 

 

Q: Likewise, what challenges are presenting themselves to rights holders at this time?

As always, talent remains crucial to drive clear understanding and interpretation of a rights holder’s value proposition. Alongside this, in a market where there is no sporting activity, we are seeing increasing numbers of rights holders furloughing staff. This will ultimately lead to negative growth in their pipeline development.

Brands in certain segments are still marketing and are still spending, albeit with adjusted or curtailed objectives in mind. Rights holders sit on some of the most engaging and compelling materials that the digital industry has to offer, and so as the on-field action halts, the off-field action should continue – however with a much more rigorous consideration in place as to how it can help stakeholders.

Failure to balance talent with stakeholder needs will see an adverse effect on pipeline development, which, in turn, delays revenue conversion, promotes negativity around the proposition and therefore has continued negative financial consequence. 

Q: How is the search for ‘new business’ being impacted, from a Right Formula perspective and for those clients the consultancy operates on behalf of in the partner acquisition space?

Undoubtedly, what was always a tough job just got a whole lot tougher. But as per some of my aforementioned insights, there needs to be a well thought out strategy as to how we are engaging with potential new clients.

Within the acquisition consultancy, we are very pleased to be aligned with rights holders who very clearly understand their purpose and can articulate this in a manner that few others can. In almost all our rights holder client’s cases, they are clear as to what their value proposition can provide for potential partners across different industries.

For Right Formula, we are focussed on driving against objectives and have found that, now more than ever, strategic consultancy is required and turnkey solutions are more highly in demand now given market flux.

 

Q: In the Activation space, there has been ‘new opportunities’ to show value through digital/virtual treatments. What have been the ‘new opportunities’, if any, on the commercial side?

Showcasing transparency has been one of the biggest opportunities for us in this period. You have to engender trust with clients and rather than using just the word, we act.

We provide all clients across our divisions with absolute transparency to our workflows, with access to live reporting portals to track progress. It’s probably quite surprising to some that I’ve chosen this, but it shows value and makes us accountable, which, in turn, gives our clients a much more integrated view on our works. 

Q: How else has Right Formula displayed real value in these difficult times for its clients?

In times of change we must be quick to react. We have adopted pro-active communications across the board to address challenges that each client faces. Rather than shying away, we tackle head-on the scenarios at play and ensure that we constantly adapt our scope of works to ensure we can continue to deliver against objectives.

We have provided strategic guidance on how to navigate business development, adjust approaches to market, alter marketing spend and bring a multitude of insights for client internal teams to the table.

On top of this, we have moved quickly to deliver strategic advice to help navigate these unprecedented times in relation to contracts, rights, assets and marketing programmes. The cross-consultancy work ethic to pull on knowledge and provide this back to our clients has been quite astonishing.

Q: How does the current situation and the learnings from it now change aspects of how the Right Formula Commercial arm operate going forwards?

I think in any downturn it makes you consider your approach to conversation. It emphasises the need to ensure you understand why you are trying to hold conversation with certain parties and that the value proposition is absolutely clear.

Secondly, we must consider how we add flexibility to rights pools. This is slightly trickier to address, but true partnerships endure the tests that come their way over the course of time and, ultimately, flexibility has to be given on both sides so we continually look at how this can be baked into conversations and commercial arrangements as a given. 

Q: For clients reading this – and those operating in the wider industry – what advice would you offer with regard to maintaining positivity?

Sport and Entertainment is so resilient. It forms a corner stone for communities across the world and has done for many, many decades. Although our landscape will change, we have to believe in the strength of our arena and the fans’ desire for our product.

That desire will continue to fuel the engine and, in doing so, continue to attract the support and interest from the marketplace as to how both fans and corporate partners can consume and leverage this unparalleled space.

The content of this article was originally published and adapted by Sport Business. Click here to read.

 

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Guest Blog: Callum Skinner on the impact of a postponed Olympics

By Callum Skinner, Olympic Cycling Champion

Olympic cycling champion and Right Formula client Callum Skinner writes exclusively for our new website about how the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games could provide opportunities for athletes and brands alike.

It’s fair to say the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were put in an unenviable position of postponing Tokyo 2020 until 2021. In my role at Global Athlete, I was one of hundreds of athletes calling for the IOC to listen to us, put welfare first and postpone the Olympic and Paralympic Games until the Covid-19 pandemic is under control. 

That being said, it wasn’t an easy decision for us athletes either. Athletes prepare for an Olympic Games for four to 10 years, so it’s not an easy decision to postpone. Some athletes who were targeting 2020 as their last Olympics may not be able to compete at all, as an extra year of intense training presents a risk to both physical and mental health. Half of Olympic sports haven’t finished their qualification schedule for the Games due to cancellations around Covid-19. Some potential Olympians may miss out on selection.

On physical health, there are 11,000 athletes and thousands of additional support staff from over 200 countries who would have come together in a compact village, which is obviously not advisable in a global pandemic. Of that, 700-1,000 athletes at the London 2012 Olympics were diagnosed asthmatics, putting them in an ‘at risk’ category. With respiratory illness reported as the most common athlete illness at an Olympic Games, this could lead to ‘false positives’ and greater anxiety among healthy athletes.

Separately, it’s well documented that Olympic athletes face financial struggles between Games. In the UK, teams work on a four-year funding cycle, so this presents a major challenge if additional funding is not provided. With the world likely to enter a Covid-19-induced recession, sponsorship opportunities will be few and far between.

 

The postponement of Tokyo 2020 can have a positive effect on the wider Olympic movement, though. The Olympics will bounce back and postponement presents an amazing opportunity to use the power of the Games to bring the world back together when we enter the post-pandemic era. 

Here are a few reasons how:

• Content: A postponed Games will put athlete stories, rather than performances, at the heart of any coverage. I have no doubt there will be many superb narratives that will become apparent as a result of the current measures in place. This will provide great content for media going forwards, putting athletes and their sponsors – not least their human side – firmly in the spotlight.

• The Alternative: If the Games were to go ahead as scheduled, the media focus would be on COVID-19 and possible outbreaks, instead of the athletes who have worked so hard to get there. Australia and Canada said they would boycott the Games and more would have followed if the original date was kept. This would devalue any results, and it goes without saying that you want the greatest athletes to be present. A good example is the Zika virus at Rio 2016, where even with limited concerns a number of athletes pulled out. 

• A Summer of Sport: 2021 is set to be an exceptional summer of sport – Euro 2021, the Rugby League World Cup, the Ryder Cup and the British & Irish Lions Tour, to name a few major tournaments set to take place. Athletes who make their squads are going to be part of something amazing and should look to market themselves to brands who don’t want to miss out.

In short, while no athletes wanted a delayed Olympics, it’s our job to overcome obstacles and succeed in any given situation – and that is what we will do.

Callum Skinner is best known for his achievements at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where he claimed a gold and silver medal, as well as an Olympic record. After retiring in 2018, he has successfully built a career in sports marketing and continues to push for improving athlete rights. In recent years, he has been a prominent voice on anti-doping, even delivering a speech on clean sport at the White House. He also sits on both the Team GB and UK Anti-Doping Athletes Commissions and is Lead Athlete at the athlete movement for positive change in sport, Global Athlete. Right Formula is proud to support Callum in his work for cycling start-up HindSight, Global Athlete and other projects.

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Blog: Importance of relationships in the world of partnerships

By Chris Bovey, Head of Partnerships

We’re in the midst of a global pandemic. It’s an unprecedented situation that continues to evolve daily, affecting everyone across the globe, and it’s forcing us to look at our industry in a different light.

Now more than ever, it is strong and honest relationships coupled with insightful business understanding that will enable consultancies and clients to continue to prosper and meet their objectives.

In the following article I’ll explore how the world’s top brands grow powerful engagement and advocacy; how Right Formula’s approach and focus towards cultivating valuable relationships distinguishes it in the marketplace; and why this focus has become particularly pertinent given the current circumstances.

Brands

Whether it’s scrolling through content on our phone, browsing the aisles of supermarkets or simply walking around our own home, every day we interact with hundreds of different brands. To many of them we attribute little significance, but there are certain brands that do hold a special place in our hearts. 

These brands have fostered a unique brand loyalty and affinity with their consumers, in a similar way that sportspersons or teams can build strong connections with their fans. Such brands are able to do this because they capture our imagination – they inspire and allow us to connect on a deeper level with them. If brands were people, we would think nothing of admitting they build emotional relationships with us.

The way that brands grow affinity and loyalty is a strong model to reference when relationship building with our own clients.

 

Right Formula’s approach

Founded 11 years ago, Right Formula understands that one of its greatest tools in delivering exceptional business results is its ability to establish, nurture and maintain genuine relationships within the sports and entertainment industry.

In a world that’s becoming ever-more focused on buzzwords, jargon, data and metrics, it’s vital that we understand our clients and their business on a deeper level than just being able to recite their objectives or latest brand guidelines.

It can be easy to forget that we work in partnerships – synonyms of which are relationships, connections, collaborations and unions. As individuals and wider teams, it is the people that bring businesses their success. 

Right Formula is a consultancy that’s passionate about nurturing meaningful relationships, to ultimately ensure investments drive business performance. Such an approach gives us an edge against our competitors, allowing us to provide tailor-made solutions that deliver exceptional results.

Our Activation team has served at clients’ side for multiple terms. Highlights include supporting Hilton for over 10 years and through the recent acquisition of Marketing Minds, we have strengthened our client roster with ExxonMobil, who have worked with the team for over 20 years. Through a rapidly changing sponsorship landscape, such unique insight and understanding enhances our ability to deliver all-encompassing programmes and develop new approaches as required. This allows us to frequently push beyond our original scope of work, as with Hilton, whose sports sponsorship portfolio we’ve helped grow to now include their partnership with the European Tour.

Regardless of business acumen or textbook knowledge, without strong relationships and deeper understanding, delivering tailor-made solutions that yield exceptional results is impossible.

PARTICULAR PERTINENCE

Given the impact that the current situation has had across the sports and entertainment industry, both clients and consultancies are meeting their own challenges. At Right Formula, we are confident that it’s our shared history and mutual understanding grown from strong relationships that helps us demonstrate value as we navigate through this uncharted territory together.

We have become extensions of our clients’ teams and we are ingrained into their business, just as they are ingrained into ours. Our tried and tested approach is enabling us to work with all our clients to rework their annual plans, renegotiate contracts where appropriate and develop and execute pivot strategies. 

In Closing

This situation may be challenging, but it’s also an opportunity for us to do things better; to thrive.  With a captive audience of sports and entertainment fans stuck indoors, we have the opportunity to change the way we approach our work and how we attract their attention. Brands have the opportunity here to use new mediums to deepen their engagement in ways that traditional event activation – which so many still prioritise – may struggle to achieve.

Despite the current climate, we can continue to deliver exceptional results. Our focus on true understanding, honest relationships and trust with clients is what will enable us to find a way through. Right Formula and its clients are ready to weather the storm.

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Blog: Settling in to our new ‘normal’ during Coronavirus

BY Louisa Nicholson

“Please take your laptops home with you this evening, as the office will now remain closed until further notice.”

Not exactly the way any of us imagined 2020 starting. Four weeks into working remotely, we find ourselves settling into our ‘new normal’ amidst a global health emergency, economic shock and near unprecedented societal shutdown.

Based in the UK and unable to leave the house for anything but essential travel, we must find ways to keep ourselves sane, healthy and happy. And yet, despite the unusual circumstances, at Right Formula we seem to have found ourselves a natural rhythm as a team. We have adapted well to our new normal.

FINDING OUR GROOVE

Even though we’re now working from 55 different offices across the UK, in some ways we’ve never been more together. Day one of social distancing brought the rebirth of our company-wide WhatsApp group, which from its creation has provided us with an abundant supply of topical memes and videos to keep our spirits lifted during these tough times. This has been swiftly followed by the emergence of other remote working-friendly tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

And then of course there is the ‘virtual tea break’. Developing simultaneously across Right Formula account teams, the tea break has become an important part of our virtual office life. Taking 15 minutes out of your morning and afternoon to catch up with your team has become a great way to break up each day and keep our energy levels high – and work ever-more productively.

TAKING IT IN OUR STRIDE

Currently mourning the temporary loss of live sport and the ability to play in weekly five-a-side football matches, go to the gym or even play a round of golf, we’ve had to substitute these luxuries with other hobbies to help us battle through the situation. One of our account leads has been working her way through a series of free home workout videos, whilst another has been using her spare time at home to train with her younger brother in the garden.

We’re also having to focus on our mental wellbeing during this time. One of the ways we can maintain a routine while keeping active and de-stressing is in our ‘commute’. Try taking the opportunity to escape your house and increase your step count by ‘walking to or from work’. One of our team, for example, is using the early mornings to get some much-needed fresh air and a bit of spring sunshine before each day in the home office.

We’ve had to improvise and adapt to overcome challenges that working from home brings, whether it’s taking video calls in unusual locations because of poor WiFi connection or perching in quiet places around the house to find peace away from the desk. We have created home office spaces that encourage us to focus, energise and separate us from our non-office life; fashioning our version of ‘normal’ in this abnormal situation we find ourselves.

 

WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER

Under normal circumstances, on a Friday afternoon after work you would hear a cowbell ring out across the office and witness a flood of thirsty staff making their way downstairs to grab a beer and catch up. It’s a time for us to share ideas and learnings but most importantly relax with each other and have a bit of fun. So why change? We’ve been dialling in to a company-wide Zoom call each Friday after work, to share a drink and have a laugh together. Times like these are much needed given the absence of usual social interaction.

Making the shift to a ‘more is less’ approach to communication, we are compensating for the lack of face to face contact. Now publishing our temporarily rebranded internal newsletter “Cabin Fever Weekly” every Friday, we’ve also launched an internal podcast, “Deserted Office Desks”, focusing on a new colleague each week to talk through their favourite records and stories. It’s a great way for us to learn a bit more about each other even though we’re apart. 

IN CLOSING

The nature of our industry means we must be able to shift gears quickly and diversify in any situation. The resilience we’ve seen from every single team member and the innovation and agility they have demonstrated to rise to this challenge is something we are incredibly proud of.

To say that this is a strange situation would be an understatement, and the lack of certainty on how long the world will have to ride this out is stressful and can be upsetting. For however long it may be, it’s certainly not business as usual, but together, we are taking it all in our stride. 

It has become our new normal – for now at least.

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Opinion: How brands can still hit KPI’s during Coronavirus

MATT JONES, MANAGING DIRECTOR – ACTIVATION

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is resulting in worldwide impact, directly affecting every continent and our most critical industries, such as healthcare, finance and travel.

Public events and operations are on hold and facing an uncertain short-term future, and the ramifications for the sports marketing industry are significant.

Large-scale, showpiece events are being shelved by the day as a precaution, leaving brands and rights holders across the globe wondering where to turn in light of the outbreak.

In our world, we’ve seen Formula 1’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix cancelled, Formula E’s season postponed and almost every sporting league across Europe and North America either called off or forced to be staged behind closed doors. This has had big consequences for many in our industry, whose activations and participation at such events have suffered the same fate.

In this time of uncertainty, we at Right Formula feel a duty to our client base to communicate that we are here to help and suggest alternative ways forward.

There is no blanket solution to the problem, but we, as a consultancy, can help provide practical alternatives to ensure the best is made of this unfortunate situation. From closed doors come new opportunities.

Wellbeing and safety is critical to our clients, so we have been proactive internally in advising the best route and offering contingency plans that make sense for the audiences our clients still need to reach – coronavirus or no coronavirus.

While this is undoubtedly a huge challenge, we want to help use this as an opportunity to differentiate. We believe there are alternative approaches, be it digitally interactive, virtual or a combination of both, that can offer thought-leading, immersive experiences. These are just a few thought provokers as to how brands can change their methods to stay agile and active during the coronavirus crisis.

 

Other considerations include:

  1. A reassessment of objectives. What is needed and what is the end goal? What elements can still remain but be communicated via a different approach? Break down your physical requirements and brainstorm alternatives.
  2. Innovations for interaction. What broadcast and immersive digital technology concepts are at your disposal and within your budget?
  3. Review your existing partnership marketing assets. With every challenge comes the opportunity to look for new opportunities. By reviewing the situation and discussing renegotiating with the rights holder, alternative solutions and opportunities might be sought.

It’s clear to all of us working within sport that this is a significant challenge that affects our industry in new ways. However, as with everything, the world doesn’t stop turning so it’s important to use challenges such as this as an opportunity and seek new, alternative ways to ensure your brand continues to thrive.

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Opinion: Ignore the doomsters – Now is the time to invest in F1 partnerships

Robin Fenwick, Chief Executive

Looking back at the liveries of the cars at the first F1 race I attended in the early 2000’s shows just how far the industry has come. It was the Italian Grand Prix and I was working on Vodafone’s partnership with Scuderia Ferrari; I was amazed at the investments in F1 compared to other sports. Soon after, I moved to McLaren and quickly discovered that brands were investing up to $100m for what I would today describe as a very traditional form of sponsorship – principally providing awareness and customer entertainment opportunities.

So how were brands of that era making a return on investment? 

Fast forward through the last two decades and the landscape has substantially changed. Not only have other forms of motorsport grown in stature, but there are thousands of sports and entertainment rightsholders outside of motorsport that are tempting brands to invest with them as an alternative – ultimately driving F1 prices down. 

Understandably, and rightly in my view, brands are shifting to purpose-driven partnerships. That’s not to say partnerships were conducted in the wrong way before, far from it; rather, it’s that society has moved on and the commercial sponsorship landscape has changed with it. Take Sky and it’s hugely successful Sky Ocean Rescue partnership; or the #PassOnPlastic initiative with the Premier League; Kia Motors using its sponsorship of UEFA’s Europa League to donate unwanted boots and trainers to young children living in refugee camps; and Paddy Power’s #SaveOurShirt campaign to clean up football jerseys. There are many more examples. 

While the sponsorship landscape is more competitive than before, appetite for F1 amongst global fans is at an all-time high. 

 

Race attendance is reaching approximately 200,000 fans per race and the cumulative global TV audience is just short of 2 billion. Even Netflix has commissioned a second series of its ‘Drive to Survive’ programme showing evidence of the ever-growing confluence of sport and entertainment. These are exciting times for F1.

Importantly too, the sport itself is changing – and for the better. The latest Concorde Agreement, signed by the FIA, all teams and the Formula One Group comes into effect in 2021. Key headlines include the introduction of a £175m cost cap and the ambition to go carbon neutral by 2030. FIA President Jean Todt described it as “a major change in how the pinnacle of motorsport will be run”. As a major plus for fans, both current and potential, these new regulations will, many believe, level out the playing field, making the sport an even more compelling proposition. 

There are a number of other under-publicised positives too, that will help the sport remain current and authentic in a world where brands are trying to appeal to younger audiences. The experience at track, both in the exclusive VIP Paddock Club Hospitality and in the general F1 Fanzone, is host to new and innovative forms of music and entertainment activities that allow you to ‘get closer’ than ever before. F1 Esports and Fantasy F1 are just a couple of new initiatives that target the younger generation – Generation Z – and it’s working: 40% of fans today are under 35, which is a significant shift from the early 2000’s.

Regardless of what era a brand was involved in F1, one thing always rings true: successful sponsorships occur when brands and rightsholders approach it in the mindset of creating a true partnership. In today’s competitive sponsorship landscape, no longer does a one-size-fits-all approach work and brands are no longer able to view sponsorship as a ‘cash for access’ proposition; the sponsorship needs to positively, and tangibly, affect the business, commercially or otherwise.

With a financial cap in place, F1 will be capitalising on its entrepreneurial, ‘can do’ ethos to work with its partners to find constructive solutions and ways of working within the parameters of the cap. The sport utilises some of the smartest technologies and talent anywhere in the world, and so now more than ever is the time for partners and teams to share resources and intelligence which will benefit brands and rights holders. The opportunities lying in F1’s wake today are greater than they have ever been.

This line of thinking is nothing new. As part of its Advanced Technologies division, Williams worked with its partner Unilever to engage air-flow specialist engineers who collaboratively developed up to 70% more efficient supermarket refrigeration units. Williams are not alone in this. McLaren, through its Applied Technologies division, utilised its agreement with Deloitte to help the UK Air Traffic Service.

Liberty Media’s reign in F1 has been in place three years, and they continue to make progressive changes to their personnel and strategy that will take the sport on to even greater successes.

That Liberty has not opted for overnight solutions to change the sport – like some have called for – is understandable and, in my view, absolutely the right approach, because, F1 is a complex sport and requires long term solutions.

 

And this is why consultancies such as ours exist: to help brands and rights holders alike achieve results efficiently and effectively by using genuine industry specialists to deliver positive and quantifiable business outcomes. Outcomes that deliver on a business’ objective.

With major rule changes coming in soon that will make the sport ever-more exciting, sponsorship rates in F1 at an all-time low and with barriers to entry (in F1) now removed, the opportunity for brands and rights holders to tailor rights and engage in truly meaningful partnerships is greater than it has ever been. 

Think of it like house prices, would you rather invest at the peak of the market or when the market has dipped and you think you can get a great deal? 

Now is the time to ignore the cynics – there has never been a better time to invest in F1.