F1 marketing boss vows to "detonate the fan experience"

Formula 1’s new marketing chief Sean Bratches has promised to “detonate the fan experience” as part of a long-term plan to grow the sport.

Bratches, a sports marketing veteran, said the opportunities to promote and grow Formula 1 were “simply huge” and that a focus on digital products were the key to greater fan engagement.

“The basis of this, if you peel everything back, is that every single thing that we’re doing has to pivot around the fan,” he told Motorsport.com.

“The fan is at the centre of all our theses in terms of driving this sport because if we’re doing the best job we can serving fans, both the existing fans and the new fans, that’s a win.

“That engagement can come from having a sponsor engage them, the rights holder engage them, the teams engage the or the drivers engage them. And that’s central to how we’re looking at the business.

“We have big events 20 times every single year in 20 different countries and there’s an extraordinary opportunity to detonate the fan experience in a very positive way.”

Bratches declined to give specifics as to how the Formula 1 Group would fulfil its aims, but he did suggest that closer collaboration with drivers and making it easier for them to promote F1 through their own social media channels was an obvious opportunity for growth.

“I see the drivers as one of our strongest assets in terms of communicating, celebrating successes and amplifying controversies,” he said. “And we can really help them do that.

“Taking Lewis Hamilton as an example, he has this kind of inalienable relationship with fans across the globe that transcends sport, that goes to celebrity.

“But we are not giving him the tools to perform from a social media standpoint with equivalent global rock stars. We want to help him.

“I had lunch with Lewis and we talked about this and we are 100 percent aligned in terms of where were going from a social media standpoint in terms of its importance and how we can work together.”

Bratches said that Formula 1 had been “left behind” by the revolution in digital communications over the past decade, but pledged to work to change that.

“There are clear opportunities that we are focused on to create new products with state-of-the-art user interfaces and content,” he said.

“We have the most extraordinary content cloud that’s floating over F1. We’re very excited about the data that we have. We just have to figure our strategically how we’re going to apportion that.”

New appointments

New marketing and communications departments are to be set up by Formula 1 Group, neither of which existed within Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Management organisation.

Norman Howell was yesterday appointed as global communications director for the group.

An immediate change made to moving-image rights was made for the first 2017 F1 test this week, with teams and drivers being allowed to post short film clips to their social media feeds.

Any such activity was prohibited under Ecclestone.

As managing director (commercial operations) for Formula 1 Group, Bratches will work closely with Ross Brawn, motorsport managing director and chief executive Chase Carey.

“I’m hand-in-glove with Ross,” Bratches said. “We want to take operations from a very deal-transaction oriented mentality to a much more strategic vision and executing on that vision over the mid- and long-term.

“We are not trying to put a Band-aid on something quickly. We are trying to take this extraordinary brand and grow it in a material, thoughtful way.”

Anthony Rowlinson