Have you met… the F1 fan?

“Have you met… Ted?” It’s one of Barney (“Wait for it…”) Stinson’s trademark remarks in the TV series How I Met Your Mother. He then unfailingly goes on to introduce his friend to a (usually female) conversation partner. To get to know someone, you need to strike up a conversation with them. So Barney’s approach makes sense. And if that works in the ‘ordinary’ world, why wouldn’t it work in sponsor country? To build a bond with sports fans, you need to get to know them first. So a bit of Barney Stinson would do sponsors a lot of good.

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Imagine you’re a Formula 1 driver, sitting behind the wheel in your F1 racing car, low to the ground, peering at a dashboard full of buttons, and hurtling around the circuit at 300 kilometres per hour. A voice crackling in your headset tells you a bend is approaching, but you can’t see a thing through your visor. Everything is blurry, misty and dark. And you know that bend is coming at you fast. You have to decide now. Steer left or right? And when exactly?

Sounds unreal? Mm, then imagine you’re a sponsor manager in F1. Year in, year out, you spend tons of money on sponsorship rights, initiate professional activations, and invest heavily in global media campaigns. But, so Barney might wonder, do you really know the F1 fan? Do you know who he is, the channels he uses to follow the sport, the content he finds attractive, and his true perception of your brand? Unless you can answer all these questions with a resounding ‘Yes’, your situation is comparable to that of the F1 driver with a misty visor. You are careering at top speed from one campaign to the next, but are unsure when to turn the steering wheel right or left.

How different things would be if you did know what makes that F1 fan tick. You know that the sport is his passion, because he loves speed and because it’s a welcome distraction from life’s daily stresses. You know that the TV is his channel of choice for watching races, while using his phone as a ‘second screen’ for race updates (via Facebook). You know that during race weekends he is keen to get updates from F1 teams (via Instagram) and watch highlights of the previous race (via Youtube). You know that what excites him more than anything is videos featuring his favourite driver (Max Verstappen), but preferably in full-blown action, rather than in trackside interviews. Just imagine knowing all that.

And take it a step further: suppose you have all this information, not just about one F1 fan, but about all F1 fans. Including those you have not yet reached with your sponsorship. So that you know how you can best reach them…and, crucially, ‘touch’ them with content that really matters to them.

Only then are you as an F1 sponsor truly in the driving seat, with a clear visor, and a firm grip on the success of your sponsorship. Sponsor happy, fan happy. Or, as Barney Stinson would say, “High five!”.

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