Teams risk blandness

Current E Beijing Friday 12 September 2014 Legge Heidfeld and Buemi in press pes

Formula E teams are failing to seize the performance advantages both on and off the track afforded by innovative social media strategies – and risk being characterised by uniform blandness. So says Marc Priestley, technical correspondent for ITV’s Formula E programme, in a blog at his website. He points out that there is little investment required to set teams apart from their competitors – but everything to gain.

The headlines were already being made long before the race even got underway and that was the result of a very deliberate and orchestrated marketing and media strategy by the series promoters, Formula E Holdings (FEH).

In the year building up to the first event, FEH drip fed the media with news, announcements of drivers and teams, venues and its plans for the fan experience.

Many of those deals were done long before they were released into the public domain, but the carefully staggered updates kept the new sport in the pages of the motorsport press and consequently in the minds of those who read such material.

From a business and marketing sense, a new audience means a entirely new world of opportunities and as promoters, FEH has done a pretty good job here, attracting relevant partners and sizeable investment.

What’s disappointed me and perhaps surprised me most, is that almost all the teams, bar one, maybe two, missed the chance to steal the moment, to build on the propitious foundations laid by the organisers and differentiate themselves from the field.

What the new formula offers everyone involved is a level playing field. A blank canvass on which to draw up a set of plans. There’s a huge opportunity to establish a brand, create a new identity and forge strategic B2B partnerships enabling vested parties to grow into something instantly recognisable. All on a platform fixed upon by the world’s eyes, yet still too infant-like to have divided itself up into the major players and the also-rans.

FE teams have much more control at the moment over the amounts and type of content they release through their own digital channels, with fewer restrictions on audio and video based media. Social media isn’t just a bolt-on for Formula E, it’s an integral part of the strategy.

Establish yourself as the most visible; the most active and interactive; the most customer centric Formula E team straight out of the box and you’re instantly the most recognisable brand emerging from an otherwise confusingly bland array of competitors. A brand that those looking for direction in who to follow on this exciting new journey, will feel naturally connected to and supportive of. A brand that wrestles market share away from the rest without even turning a wheel and there are clearly a variety of ways in which to monetise and capitalise if you’re the market leaders. It’s a strategy that’s self perpetuating in its success, yet one that costs little more than a creative mind to initiate.

1 Comment

  • Hamish says:

    To my mind the real differentiation will start in season 2 when different manufacturers become involved. Renault, Mahindra and Venturi would ( will?) be a good start. An established major manufacturer, an aspiring global manufacturer and a boutique specialist, plenty of interest there. Hopefully some others will come on board in the next few years if not for season 2. Most enduring top level motor racing series involve battles between manufacturers, e.g. formula 1, Le Mans, DTM (even if that is phony under the skin) etc. One make series seem to have a history of failing after the first few years.


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