Tag Archives: Red Bull

Red Bull’s American Formula 1 Team

A recent Economist article on Bernie Ecclestone and F1 mentioned Red Bull’s interest the formation of an American F1 team with US drivers – a timely startup for any group willing to develop a team and spend the dollars to do it right with two new races arriving shortly in Austin and New Jersey.

The article covers several other key points about F1’s current state of affairs, but the second sentence in the quote below is absolutely on the mark.  One question for US fans might be that given the team’s origins in an Austrian drinks firm, what would they need to feel the team is a truly American effort?

Red Bull . . . is said to be looking at launching a new “Stars and Stripes” Formula One team with American drivers. Local drivers boost audiences.

F1’s return to the US this November makes for an exciting time for fans here, and news along these lines is certainly an encouraging sign for things to come…


Filed under American F1 drivers, brand strategy in F1, F1 cars in America, F1 in America, Uncategorized

A New F1 Audience in America


The Cahier Archive


As part of SPEED’s coverage of Formula 1 in the United States, four races this year will be going to FOX and their affiliates, who can and do make programming decisions that affect the sport’s coverage in certain markets.  Their extended coverage of this year’s Canadian Grand Prix is appreciated by Formula 1 fans across the country, for a race that took the honor of being the longest in Formula 1 history.  Having put together over 100 viewing events with our local F1 group here in San Francisco with dozens of them shown on FOX, I can say from firsthand experience it’s not always a sure thing to have a scheduled race shown on the affiliate in our local market.

The nature of this year’s race with several gaps in action due to rain and crashes made for an epic event, especially for those who stayed on to the finish.  In a country where commercial advertising makes for several natural breaks during a race, the red flags and soaked track in Canada this year created a different kind of opportunity for fans.  Viewers normally worried about missing a return to racing after a regular commercial break took the opportunity during the extended rain delays to jump to laptop or mobile device to contribute to a growing conversation on twitter.  Fans were talking about not only the race so far, but also weather forecasts, who was at the race, and even something I was interested in:  How was everyone getting on with their television coverage on FOX?  I was almost certain part or all of the US would jump to a local sports team on their local affiliate at some point before the severely delayed race was over.

The rain delays also afforded a great opportunity for the SPEED team to engage with the many fans tweeting about the coverage, and during the fill that many broadcasters need to create during an extended break in action it was refreshing to see SPEED taking requests via twitter for highlight footage to be shown during the red flags.  Giving the broadcast the ability to sample the stream of feedback from viewers happening live once again showed the opportunity for much greater Formula 1 fan engagement with a new kind of racing fan, one that is connected, engaged, and is contributing to the experience everyone viewing and tweeting is having.

That said, there’s nothing like a live broadcast at a reasonable hour to make it possible for fans and event to come together in a much more spontaneous way as part of the total experience.  The opportunities in front of a the American Formula 1 audience this weekend weren’t lost on the celebrities tweeting about the race, from rapper Ice-T (in attendance) to gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, and next year in Austin will only create more opportunities for fans, brands, and racing to come together with something altogether different: A purpose built facility at Circuit of the Americas and a little Texas charm.

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Filed under American F1 circuits, American F1 Events, American F1 Fans, brand strategy in F1, Circuit of the Americas, F1 and branding, F1 and business, F1 and Hollywood, F1 and Social Media, F1 and technology, F1 broadcasters, F1 broadcasting in America, F1 in America, United States Grand Prix, United States Grand Prix in Austin

Red Bull, Ferrari, Branding and Race Strategy

The whole world condemned Ferrari after what they did in Hockenheim but we have turned out as idiots because we did not act in this way. We never even thought about it as long as both our drivers remain in the hunt for the championship.” – Dietrich Mateschitz

In racing, determination and the will never to give in have enabled us to get one of our drivers into the lead in the Formula 1 championship. We must continue with this commitment, both in the markets and on the track to bring an exceptional 2010 to a fitting conclusion.” – Luca di Montezemolo


The Cahier Archive

As you probably know, Red Bull and Ferrari are battling this weekend on the track with the aim of winning the World Driver’s Championship, the trophy most fans associate with the “F1 Championship”.  Red Bull has already taken the Constructor’s Title, and with one race to go, the current points totals between Red Bull’s next closest driver (Mark Webber, 238) and leader Fernando Alonso (246), has brought up a story from earlier this summer: Ferrari’s orders to their driver Felipe Massa to surrender his lead to his team mate during the German Grand Prix.

Considered to be fixing the outcome of a sporting event by some, and ruthless strategy by others, Ferrari has best positioned itself with a single driver (at the expense of the other) to take the title with Fernando Alonso, while Red Bull has not favored either driver in the same way this year.

Red Bull continues to take heat from critics for not declaring a similar team favorite driver and instead choosing to let Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel race each other for the championship, but there’s been one point of view that I’ve noticed is missing from the headlines:  Winning world championships certainly makes for team headlines and happy fans, but as part of each brands’ overall decision to race in Formula 1, how important is winning the World Driver’s Title to the Red Bull and Ferrari brands?

At this level of racing, brands justify their expenditures and partnerships with teams on the grid by leveraging Formula 1 as a marketing platform.  Participation in the sport creates global exposure for those brands, and with 520 million global F1 race viewers last year (down from 600 million in 2008), it certainly helps to reach viewers (the vast majority on television) by having cars and drivers featuring your brand lead the race, and ultimately, win.

While fans may be focused on Ferrari’s team orders and the gap between Webber, Vettel and Alonso, it’s clear that letting both drivers from the same team fight on behalf of Red Bull for the championship has helped to inflate their coverage on screen.  The numbers according to marketing research firm Margaux Matrix show Red Bull’s on screen exposure in the first 15 races this season to be 4 hours and 27 minutes, as compared with Ferrari’s, at 52 minutes.

Had Fernando and Felipe been allowed to compete more as Red Bull’s drivers have, surely those viewing numbers would be higher for Ferrari – assuming both are given equal support from the team to lead and win the race.  More television coverage creates more value for the brand, so why the team orders at Ferrari?

The Cahier Archive

Looking at the two brands and how they might receive the most benefit from their exposure in the sport, I would argue that some of how Ferrari and Red Bull approach their competition strategies on the track ultimately comes down to how different branding strategies leverage the Formula 1 platform.

To my mind, Red Bull’s spirit of competition embodies participation, individuality, and good fun.   From their open-call Flugtag events to American gold medal winning Olympic snowboarder Shaun White’s easygoing attitude and famous videos, Red Bull activates across a variety of sports and activities to create a broad appeal – and leverages the quality of each experience they create or participate in to build on their brand.  F1 has certainly had a look at its lighter side with Red Bull in the paddock, and helped broaden the sport’s appeal in return.  Ultimately, at $3.00 apiece, a can of Red Bull isn’t about exclusivity, it’s about experience and an ease of enjoyment, and the brand is built upon reaching all with a sense of excitement and experience around the product.

Counter to this ‘all comers welcome’ approach, Ferrari’s brand isn’t for everyone – it’s for the few.  At $100,000+, a Ferrari isn’t for every driveway, so they have fueled their brand’s reputation on not just racing, but winning.  As a manufacturer of exotic sports cars, the benefits of participating in F1 seems apparent, and Ferrari’s focus on and unique place in the history of the sport as participants and as its winningest team gives them a strong connection to Formula 1  – something they sell with every car they build.

Ferrari’s ‘other’ business has little to do with building cars, but building demand for their brand.  The roughly $1.5 billion in revenue Ferrari has with their licensing and retail business contributes significantly to their bottom line.  So strong is the desire they’ve created to buy into or be part of the Ferrari brand, that for a price, parties pay a premium to label their products with Ferrari’s logo.  Aside from the countless Ferrari toys, hats and shirts at every race and Ferrari retail store, there are manufacturers of skis, stereo speakers, wine, and just about anything other than cars who enroll in a branding program with Ferrari to label their products with the Cavallino.

At Red Bull, part of building and maintaining their brand requires reaching the greatest audience and sharing the experiences that come with their participation in F1.  The sport’s global reach naturally makes it a focus for their branding efforts, and Red Bull’s plans to increase their production worldwide by 10% this year has been at least in part due to the ability of the team to keep their two F1 drivers at or near the top step of the podium – and in front of the largest television audience on earth.

The degree to which any F1 team benefits from participating in the sport depends on a number of variables, however Ferrari’s mandate is clear:  Building and maintaining their brand as well as their licensing and retail business is based on maintaining their exclusivity.  Being the singular team and driver on the top step of the podium on Sunday equates precisely to that aim, and requires the results to go with it.  Team orders to that end are as much a part of Ferrari’s core strategy as a brand as is their reason to participate in the sport, since every F1 season is an opportunity to validate their brand – by winning.


SportsPro: Ferrari, the magic brand

AutoWeek: Red Bull gets most exposure of all teams in 2010

Global License: Top 100 Licensors

Autosport: Ferrari did use illegal team orders

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Filed under brand strategy in F1, F1 and branding, F1 and business, Uncategorized