Formula E is the talk of the town, in fact 12 towns this season and it will be visiting 15 towns next season. A relatively new motorsport series, now in its fifth season, it has come a long way from its precarious start in Beijing in 2014.
There is a confidence permeating from the stakeholders in the series, particularly the rights holder of the event who are bullish about commercial growth. And rightly so, they have hit upon an extremely relevant movement in a hugely popular sport. Amazingly there are 11 OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers or consumer car companies to the lay-person) signed up currently with Porsche and Mercedes to join season 6. There are even rumours of Lewis Hamilton moving over to the series…
Why are so many OEMs involved?
Manufacturers clearly recognise the strategic importance of being involved in a series of this kind:
1. Formula E provides a proof point for the electrification of manufacturer products that showcases ‘performance’ values
2. It is a strong platform to communicate a manufacturer’s innovation and technology credentials
3. It supports their R&D needs around the ‘arms race’ towards vehicle electrification
4. With events in multiple global cities it is a strong B2B platform through which to engage suppliers and potential strategic partners.
How the game has changed
Whilst Formula E is undoubtedly attracting new sponsors (mainly B2B brands with the exception of Hugo Boss and Heineken), bigger name drivers and new fans, the unique opportunity with Formula E lies outside of a traditional sponsorship model. The series has latched onto the zeitgeist of ‘connected cities’.
The opportunity here is far greater than the initial urban sustainable mobility question which is clearly so topical for many of the cities the series visits, not least Rome where the race recently visited.
Formula E is in effect re-writing the sponsorship playbook for partners and this is why:
1. It provides a B2B platform for OEMs, their partners and city stakeholders to engage with businesses and tackle urban challenges of the future
2. It can effectively engage stakeholders across the spectrum – manufacturing, government, mobility, community, data, technology, infrastructure, energy and utilities
3. The opportunity provides a blend of product development (technological advancement), business return (commercial partnerships) and business purpose (supporting the sustainability agenda).
The opportunity with Smart Cities Forums
Whilst the profile and ‘numbers’ around the event are no doubt growing as the organisers finesse the event delivery, build their event activation and invest more heavily in content production, the true partnership opportunity here lies in being a ‘member of this club’.
The racing, which is currently rather underwhelming, is just the ‘hook’. The real opportunity that exists around the globe-trotting circus that is Formula E are in commercial return opportunities with like-minded business partners and being at the heart of this connected community.
The FIA Smart Cities forums are the real opportunity that exist for truly progressive businesses jostling to position themselves for the future. Harnessed correctly this entity could become THE movement for developing ‘connected cities’ for the future. Formula E is changing the game in this regard but it is not the racing that is the primary appeal.
For more information on the opportunities here, please get in touch
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