Category: Blogs and Opinion
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The Ability of Partnerships to Transcend Sport into Wider Culture

James Cardona, Business Manager

Right Formula Business Manager, James Cardona, explores how the lines between sport and entertainment have become blurred and how that can impact brand partnerships.

When the global pandemic forced sport off our screens and eventually kept fans away from stadia and events, as a society we lost our weekly right to experience the roar of a crowd or the purr of an engine. What we gained instead was an added appreciation of sport’s ability to deliver more than just sport.

Sports kit went from technical wear to leisurewear when working from home, local clubs became online communities, and athletes became activists, artists and influencers.

Now, sport has the ability to transcend its own definition and glide beyond the on-pitch physical entertainment and competition. It has spread its influence into music, fashion, art, social activism and everyday culture.

paris: a capital of culture

Paris Saint-Germain’s capture of Lionel Messi from Barcelona during the football summer transfer window understandably made the front and back pages, but their business away from the pitch has been equally impressive.

It was recently announced that French luxury fashion house, Dior, was to become the club’s official tailor. This heralds Dior’s first time working with a sports club and through the collaboration with PSG they have aligned with a global lifestyle brand that is modern and fast-growing.

The worlds of sport and fashion are now entwined; influences from one are seen in the other.

The partnership follows on from PSG’s first foray into lifestyle in 2018, when they entered into a sportswear supply deal with Nike Jordan – a brand more famed in the NBA – which had obvious benefits for the club in the US market.

The arrival of the world’s best player in Messi, alignment to French luxury in Dior, and street culture through Jordan, gives PSG the ultimate trifecta. They attack culture from all angles and we expect to see the PSG brand to continue its meteoric rise.

 

an olympic debut for the breakdancing community

Continuing with Paris, the 2024 Olympics will see the inaugural inclusion of breakdancing. After the success of skateboarding and surfing at the recent Tokyo Games, we continue to see the fascinating growth of ‘non-traditional’ sports in the ultimate global competition. The IOC has been on a mission to widen the appeal and relevance of the Olympics as well as secure a younger audience, and as a result, their recognition of breakdancing is significant.

With strong roots in rap music, street art and DJing, the sport opens up multiple avenues for brand alignment and partnership as well as community support. Its Olympic inclusion will only increase the stature and commercial potential of leading events such as Red Bull BC One, a client of Right Formula’s.

 

listening to the cultural beat

Sport’s relationship with music is long-standing. Songs are ingrained in our memories as the soundtracks to historic moments, but it’s how we listen that has changed. Athletes across all sports are now seen arriving to their various events and competitions sporting a range of headphones, earbuds and portable speakers.

As Liverpool FC star Trent Alexander-Arnold explains in his recent link up with Bang & Olufsen: “Music is my way of getting in the zone.” In the content, created by Right Formula Productions, the premium audio company highlights music’s ability to adapt to different states by utilising their ambassador in a multi-faceted role – Trent the chef, the gamer and even the chess-player. Whilst famous for their raw talent, sports stars are also icons off the pitch, court and track.

the implications for brands and partnerships

The way sport is intertwined with wider culture and entertainment only increases the opportunity for brands when they get involved in partnerships.

Did iconic Italian tyre brand Pirelli ever expect to be worn on the runway at Milan Fashion Week by Winnie Harlow? The supermodel took to the catwalk in 2019 to help launch Inter Milan’s 20-year anniversary shirt. This feat catapulted the brand into the front-row of a new fashion-conscious audience.

Through partnerships, brands can now capitalise on the cultural relevance that sport carries.

For the right brand, activated in the right way, partnerships can help you tap into multiple passion points of your audience, launching you into multiple conversations at once.

A sports partnership doesn’t haven’t to be limited to sport. A sports ambassador as the face of your brand doesn’t have to be used in a solely sporting context.

This powerful approach allows brands to reach new audiences in new markets.

 

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The Rise of Technical Sustainable Partnerships in Sport

Charlotte Ellingham, Senior Account Manager

Right Formula Senior Account Manager, Charlotte Ellingham, reviews recent sustainability activations and how the power of sport can highlight and affect positive change – starting with rightsholders’ commercial partners.

Sport is a powerful vehicle that contributes to making a positive change. Whether creating a cultural shift that helps communities through technological innovations or simply inspiring a new generation through world class performances, each step results in a bigger and more influential impact which in turn creates a continuous positive chain of reactions.  

A scan of the news in recent months can attest to the urgency in which we need to make a change in our day to day lives, particularly when it comes to creating a greener and more sustainable future. This need for a more immediate long-term improvement in our society, aided by sport, is instrumental in making that significant difference. 

Some of the world’s most renowned sporting occasions embody this foresight already and continue to make strides in this area. Increasingly, sustainability is becoming a common theme as major sporting events and venues seek to actively promote not only their environmental efforts but also the improvements that they are making now that fans are back in the stadiums and arenas. 

This year the ATLEC, in partnership with the BBC, COP26 and the Met Office, introduced the first Environment Day at Wimbledon. Their aim was to highlight the growing climate crisis through a variety of bespoke discussions featured throughout the day on TV broadcast and social media. Noticeable changes were also made on site and included the recycling of used racket strings, reusable cups for cold drinks and zero waste to landfill.

Their aim is to achieve much needed awareness to inspire others to follow suit whilst showcasing the latest in the innovative technologies we now have at our disposal. This in turn creates impactful change whilst shedding light on those best practice brands and sporting organisers which can become a beneficial marketing tool for both parties.

 

What more can brands do in this space?

Inspiring change is exactly what Tokyo 2020 Olympic Partner and one of our clients Aggreko, is setting out to achieve. As a temporary power and energy solutions company, Aggreko are setting the stage for many of its long-standing clients by developing ground-breaking technologies, and filling the urgent need to provide a more sustainable and renewable solution, at a green sporting event.

A range of new innovative products and services are provided at many of the biggest stages across in the world. 

 No stone is left unturned, which was the message of the partnership announced at the recent 149th Open Championship. A hybrid system was installed that was made up of two renewable microgrids which supplied 100% reliable power without a connection to the grid, powering a fleet of electric vehicles used during the championship. In addition, for the first time in the R&A’s history, all generators on site were entirely fuelled by HVO – a sustainable biodiesel derived from waste and residue feedstock. 

Through a collaboration with the R&A, Mercedes-EQ and Connected Kerb, the project became the focal point within the sustainability zone, positioned at the entrance to the course, stimulated a conversation with golf fans. 

Aside from sustainability and inspiring a new generation,
sport provides the catalyst for a cultural shift
on a wide variety of important topics. 
 

 
One great example of this is Olympics and the work conducted by the IOC.

As the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has wrapped up, it’s clear to see the impact that the two weeks will have on both old and new sports. Those newly included in the recent Games each started their Olympic campaign with individual reservations about whether they would provide as much entertainment as the long-standing and high-profile events like the traditional track and field events. As soon as the games began this quickly dissipated and the world was introduced to the likes of new superstars in sports such as Skateboarding and Rock Climbing, who were catapulted into the global spotlight and a new realm of fame. 

Significant moments at an Olympic Games can have a huge impact on sport participation at a global and local level. For example, when the Team GB Women’s Hockey team won gold in Rio 2016, the average hockey club across England grew by 54% – particularly amongst under 16’s. Although some players continued to play with a focus on winning a medal in Tokyo, others decided to use their newfound fame to promote matters close to their hearts such as diversity and inclusion and took positions within the media to further increase their profile and efforts. 

There is a role for brands to play with joining and building on this momentum, which mutually benefits the ambassadors by increasing their profile, but also allows the brands to align with key messaging that a business stands for. 

In recent years, Aggreko have supported LGPA Golfer Mel Reid who champions the message of inclusion and the importance of women in sport. A unique partnership such as this allows Aggreko and Mel to work together and make a difference in areas that matter to them both. 

The promotion of sport around the world with the message of inclusion provides a platform for the quality of sport to grow further, and ultimately also produces a better calibre of sport as a more diverse skill set starts to be included.

The legacy that is created from events such as the Tokyo Olympics and the stars its produced, will result in more fan participation in sport as well as provide help with the plight of increasing diversity and inclusion across sport on a global level. 

CHARLOTTE ELLINGHAM, SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER

 

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Right Formula 2020: A Year in Review

Robin Fenwick, Chief Executive

When I started Right Formula in 2009, I knew the business would have to continually evolve to keep up with client needs and market forces. But this year has necessitated change beyond what anyone could have predicted. 

Just over a decade ago, the premise for starting the business was to bring together some of the finest strategic and innovative people to deliver a high-quality service that meets our clients needs.  

To achieve this, we ensured that principles such as ongoing creativity, resilience, adaptability and perseverance were rooted in the way each and every team member went about their work. 

In turn this has allowed us to achieve success based on the strength of relationships we’ve nurtured in some cases over many years, built on the core principles we’ve instilled across our workforce. Having marked over a decade of operating and experienced what has been without doubt the most challenging year of the business – which has incidentally also been my 40th birthday year – I’ve probably been in a more reflective mood than usual!

Today, we have more than 50 staff working across numerous sports across the globe, consulting for many prestigious clients who operate in a range of business sectors. It is therefore critical to me, now more than ever, that each and every client sees us deliver a return on their investment. 

In 2020, the marketing rights we were tasked to activate at Right Formula simply couldn’t be delivered in the way they were articulated in contracts. As a business, we have had to work creatively with rights holders to ensure we adapted, and fast. We had to find solutions that were mutually agreeable but not without compromise from both sides.

 The character of those within the business, channelling the values we had when Right Formula began, has led us to be more creative than ever and truly deliver best-in-class solutions. 

For example, across the industry there had been question marks around how best to activate digital and virtual experiences. The COVID-19 pandemic required innovation, so at Right Formula we introduced a Virtual Official Match Ball Carrier for Kia at the UEFA Europa League Final, provided innovative digital solutions to leverage Genpact’s partnership with Envision Virgin Racing in Formula E, and delivered an entire Esports competition for Logitech.

 

These are just small samples of our work this year and whilst I’m truly delighted that we’ve delivered campaigns that have produced amazing results for our clients, it’s also the personal development of individuals within our business that I’ve witnessed first-hand that I take huge pride in.

 

I have to admit, I was worried about whether remote working was an efficient solution as our industry is all about people, but it’s fair to say that worry has been firmly dismissed. The team has been diligent and determined in all aspects of their work and as a result we haven’t lost a client – in fact, we’ve renewed several existing partnerships and seen some healthy new business wins

 

Whilst it’s difficult to predict what exactly to expect in 2021, we can certainly take a huge amount of experience from the past 12 months. What’s more, there seems to be renewed optimism commercially in the marketplace which is a welcome change from recent months.

 

It’s positive that our clients are planning both physical and digital activations for 2021. We have proactively found solutions to ensure our clients are still achieving business-changing results and I’m hopeful that come this time next year, we’ll be back to normality. I’m certainly keeping my fingers crossed!

 

But whatever the world throws at us, I feel that we have a business that’s genuinely robust and we will be better prepared than ever. 

 

Just finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of our staff, clients, partners and suppliers a well deserved break over the Christmas period and all the very best for 2021. 

 

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Sports Ambassadors – ‘The value of human engagement’

Robin Fenwick, Chief Executive

The dust has finally settled on what was an extraordinary sporting weekend just gone and we’ve now had some time for Sunday’s two major, record-breaking achievements to truly sink in.

I’m talking, of course, about Dustin ‘DJ’ Johnson winning The Masters and Lewis Hamilton reaching seven Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championships.

These were far from normal victories, with many records sent tumbling. DJ won by five shots in Augusta, the largest margin since Tiger Woods in 1997. He also equalled the lowest score in major history of -20, which became the best ever at Augusta National.

As for Hamilton, his Turkish Grand Prix masterclass takes him to the most amount of race wins by any Formula 1 driver (94) and a record-equalling seven drivers’ titles, matching Michael Schumacher’s total and essentially becoming the most successful driver of all time.

 

For me, it’s an interesting time to consider what this means for brands partnering with these two individuals. Bottom line, with few exceptions, success breeds success – so any brands associated with these ambassadors should be absolutely delighted given the significant positive exposure they have received.

 

The structure of the deals for the brands you will have seen on these two sportsmen’s clothing, however, are very different. Hamilton is contracted by Mercedes Motorsport not just to drive for them, but to give up most of his ‘marketing time’ and his intellectual property including name and image rights, for example, whilst on team duty.

 

While under heavy media attention at a Grand Prix, Hamilton is required to wear team kit displaying sponsored brands, which deliver huge exposure for partners. DJ, by comparison, can wear what he likes, when he likes. Of course, he will still be contracted to brands of his choosing, but at every golf event he attends it will be him that decides what to wear and how much marketing time to commit.

One is not necessarily better than the other, because Hamilton receives a very healthy salary from Mercedes Motorsport to cover the sacrifices he makes, but in doing so he also gives up quite a bit of ‘commercial freedom’. 

In terms of benefits to brands associated with Hamilton and DJ, put simply, an endorsement from one of these individuals will go a long way to drive sales and patronage for the brand.

Furthermore, Hamilton’s reputation now transcends the sport. His work to raise awareness for social issues including diversity in sport, Black Lives Matter and sustainability initiatives is heavily aligned to the core values of some of the world’s biggest brands.

When high-profile individuals convey your message in an authentic manner, it resonates more effectively with fans, leading to increased relevancy of your product – even if your customer only subconsciously realises it. 

Ambassadors can help set your business apart from your competition. While others traditionally promote through advertising, they are largely delivering the same kind of message. ‘Made with the finest ingredients’ or ‘We go above and beyond’, are examples that consumers are understandably sceptical of. Individuals can give your brand a personality that allows you to make much more personal and emotive connections with your desired audience. 

When customers understand your brand’s values, goals and beliefs, they are much more likely to trust what you have to say as an organisation. Particularly at this time during ‘lockdown’ in many countries, it can be difficult to effectively convey brand personality to the public without actual human interaction. Through ambassadors social channels, there is an opportunity to speak to your audience in a subtle, but persuasive manner that they will understand. Let us take some time to consider the most engaged social accounts around the globe – not only can ambassadors deliver a deeper level of social engagement, but they can also engage with consumers at far greater scale than many brands could through their own channels.

 

The crucial part when choosing an ambassador is to ensure the individual’s audience is right for your business. For example, two of DJ’s (personal) partners are Adidas and TaylorMade and two of Hamilton’s (team) partners are Tommy Hilfiger and IWC watches. Each brand mentioned chose to work with these ambassadors because they will resonate with their respective customer base. 

We at Right Formula, through smart technology, are able to put this into practice, and identify and target the customer personas of our clients that overlap with the audience of the chosen ambassadors in order to reduce wastage and ensure brands optimise their return on investment. 

It’s not only important to select the right partner for the brand, but also to decide what you would like to achieve, such as the ‘promotion of a specific product’ or to ‘align with a particular campaign’. Most audiences are pretty savvy and can easily spot a partnership that is not authentic, which in turn will have the reverse effect and possibly a negative impact of the talent and/or the brand if the messaging is forced. 

However, research shows that consumers are more likely to pay attention to their social circle than they are to paid advertising, and this social circle includes people they follow online. Consumers often tend not to follow brands online, but 72% of people decide what they want to buy based on social media posts, proving if you find the right individual who resonates with your customers, it can deliver significant results.

So while we are all going through our own challenges at the moment and are more receptive than ever to the ‘value of human engagement’, now is the time to consider how an ambassador can accelerate your business in a way that truly sets you apart.

 

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Insight: Brand adaptation that drives results

It has often been said that changing the way a brand is perceived is one of the toughest challenges for any marketeer to undertake. In many cases, what a brand stands for is something that has been developed over many years, with the resulting brand image re-enforcing the understanding and feelings that an audience holds over time. 

But every now and then, an element of change may be required. This could be a new product being launched for a different audience, or the likes of cultural and environmental trends forcing a change of direction. What for so long has become a virtue or position of strength can quickly become a barrier to change.

Whatever the reason, marketing teams will be searching for ways to achieve this brand shift as effectively and efficiently as possible.

It’s at this point that partnership marketing can really flex its muscles and demonstrate why it plays such an important role as a marketing channel.

From the perspective of the brand, it is the power of association that is so valuable. The act of sponsoring another entity, in order to borrow valuable equity, is what makes it such a powerful marketing channel to aid re-appraisal or drive positional change.

In time, a clearly defined partnership strategy will fuel purposeful and powerful activations, from which a brand can begin to move in the direction they so desire over a sustained period.

Re-defining a category

Recently, we have seen examples of brands entering long-term partnerships with the aim of redefining a whole category.

Formula E, the fully electric single-seater racing championship, has become a powerful platform for brands within the petroleum and oils space to drive their re-appraisal and perception as more holistic ‘energy’ companies. A position that naturally fits far better alongside the wider sustainability agenda that is so prominent across the electric mobility and engineering landscape.

There are multiple examples of global petroleum brands expanding their motorsport presence into this space – with the subsequent partnership equity powering a new brand narrative suitable for sustainable and future-thinking energy brands.

Indeed, the power of Formula E to lend its credibility around sustainability goes far beyond the petroleum and oil industry. SAP’s partnership with Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E team allows them to reach their B2B and B2C audiences via the unique filter that the sport provides, differentiating their partnership activation compared to anything else within their marketing mix.

 

Speaking to a new audience without alienating another

Let’s take a second to consider the task of repositioning a brand in the eyes of one audience, without diluting the core message that is so important to another.

For so long, Dove have spoken to their female heartland in an honest and real way that drew much admiration. Their Real Beauty campaign changed the conversation around female beauty and empowered a whole generation of women to have the confidence to embrace themselves in a way that was unique in the category.

It is a hugely powerful and effective campaign and one that had to be considered when speaking to a male audience on behalf of their Men Care range.

Over time, they have utilised the power of their partnerships within rugby union to speak to a male audience in a way that works for them. Crucially, this has involved exploring the emotive side of sportsmen who, on the surface, have traditionally displayed a tough exterior shell. Not only have they supported their male product range when so much of their brand has been female focused, but they have successfully broken-down barriers within how the sport of rugby is perceived – thus allowing the fanbase to more openly discuss, embrace and purchase their product category – skin care.

 

WHERE TO BEGIN?

Brand re-appraisal and successfully driving a brand narrative in a new direction is no easy feat.

To begin, we require a complete understanding of how the brand is perceived in the market, an oversight of the business challenges to be overcome, along with the desired end-goal or direction of travel.

Once this is clear, we turn our attention to sourcing the right partner that not only allows the brand to engage with their target audience, but also provides authenticity and credibility to help fuel the desired change of direction and narrative. For those brands that have already secured these partnerships, the focus is on leveraging the rights acquired in the most effective and efficient way, across the entire marketing mix, to re-shape brand perception, build a new story and positively engage with audiences both new and old.

Partnership marketing is a channel that offers up huge value, and brand re-appraisal is just one area that can benefit when it is executed successfully. It is never too late to change or be seen in a different way.

But it doesn’t need to be done alone. Finding the right partner to work alongside makes a tricky task a whole lot easier.

For more information, contact Right Formula Brands Director Damien Gillman here.

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UEFA Europa League: Right Formula and Kia return for 2020/21

After a shorter turnaround than usual, the UEFA Europa League has returned with 48 teams from across the continent for the 2020/21 Group Stage.

Familiar clubs from England, Spain, Italy and Germany have once again launched their bid for European silverware, while outfits from the likes of Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Israel and Serbia are also getting their shot on the big stage.

Right Formula are also back for the new season, on hand for our third year of consultancy and activation work for global car manufacturer and UEFA Europa League Official Partner, Kia Motors.

There’s been little respite for our account team, with the new campaign launching in earnest just 62 days after the last one ended in Cologne, where Sevilla once again reigned supreme after victory over Italian heavyweights Inter Milan.

That particular night is one Right Formula look back at with immense pride, having adapted to the unprecedented challenge of activating at a behind-closed-doors showpiece event for the first time. 

Responsible for finding innovative and engaging ways to help activate Kia’s sponsorship in the circumstances of the global COVID-19 pandemic, outside-the-box thinking was required to meet a now unfamiliar brief in time for the Final. How could we help Kia supply a money-can’t-buy experience when all non-essential personnel couldn’t be at the stadium?

 

Step forward the Virtual Official Match Ball Carrier (VOMBC) – the tech supplement helping fulfil the dream of one lucky child.

Rather than host the Official Match Ball Carrier at the match, where under normal circumstances they walk out onto the pitch alongside the players, Kia took the matchday experience to their home for the Final.

Ten-year-old football fan Justus was the lucky winner, receiving a personal message from legendary German footballer Michael Ballack to inform him of his involvement in the Final. 

On the night itself, Justus remotely greeted the Sevilla and Inter Milan players as they arrived at the stadium, with the likes of Romelu Lukaku stopping by to say hello. Justus was then supplied with immersive virtual reality equipment that would take him inside the stadium and allow him to tour the venue as if he was on location.

Finally, he lived his dream by virtually carrying the Official Match Ball to the pitch.

 

It wasn’t the event that the UEFA Europa League, Kia Motors or Right Formula expected when the tournament kicked off this time last year, but the ability to adapt to the circumstances ensured once-in-a-lifetime memories were still achieved. Strong relationships with the client, UEFA, VR technology suppliers and the skills of our in-house production team all helped deliver a truly unique activation.

Unfortunately, capacity crowds in stadia still appear some way off. No one quite knows what this season’s Final in Gdańsk may look like. But we’ll be ready to help our clients with whatever hand is dealt.

 

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Opinion: Why the European Tour’s UK Swing Series should be an annual event

Chris Bovey, Head of Partnerships

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 while 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.

 

“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.