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Today the Formula 1 kicks off in Austin, Texas, marking the first use of the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) track. Inaugural sponsors include AT&T, Anheuser-Busch, Mobil 1, Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Topo Chico, Red Bull, Best Buy, Pirelli and Texas Lottery. We spoke with some of the sponsors as well as COTA to learn how brands are activating their sponsorship benefits.

Contrary to most other brands that don’t have the benefit of in-track signage, Pirelli will be very visible on the track and, therefore, receive significant media (TV, press, digital) exposure with the related high media equivalent value. Two additional facts will maximize exposure: a. this is a US Grand Prix on a brand new state of the art track that hosts the return of Formula 1 in the US, b. the broadcast will be at a watchable time as opposed to other Grand Prix races around the world. Additionally, Pirelli has organized several media, consumer and trade events around the Inauguration of the circuit in Austin and in conjunction with the actual Gran Prix week and weekend, physically touching hundreds of thousands of fans and hundreds of trade partners and media.

Pirelli has also managed to exploit their Formula 1 sponsorship beyond the race weekend. “We will feature a National F1 Showcase Tour that brings to dealer showrooms, shopping malls, auto shows and other large consumer gatherings an original F1 Car, F1 Driving simulator and other F1 related product services and stories,” explained Paolo Ferrari, Chairman and CEO of Pirelli’s NAFTA Region. Ferrari also shared that Pirelli brought to the USA two F1 three-seat Pirelli branded cars derived from real Jordan F1 cars. Three-seater rides are available at dedicated shows for consumer and trade promotions, providing a unique Formula one track experience riding on Pirelli tires.

Paolo Ferrari of Pirelli

“All of these activities allow us to leverage our Formula 1 sponsorship even more than we thought in a very crowded sport sponsorship/media market like the US, capturing value through activations during the week of the event but also throughout the whole year, with consumer, trade and media professionals, and with exposure across all kinds of marketing channels,” said Ferrari.

Dell’s relationship with Caterham transcends a traditional sponsorship. According to Bryan Jones, Executive Director, North America Business Segment Marketing at Dell, “we aren’t starting from scratch here in the US on how we activate this partnership. Our primary audience for this relationship is our commercial customers in the B2B space. Since we were a ‘ground floor’ partner, literally, we’ve been leveraging our unique relationship here in the US for the last two years. We’ve had the team and cars at several high profile customer events and industry events like the Gartner Datacenter Symposium. When we started with Caterham, they literally had 8 employees, 4 dogs and a warehouse. We leverage the story of how Dell helped Caterham go from 0 to 220mph in just 22 weeks around the globe through digital assets, case studies and customer facing material. “

Dell has been supporting the Caterham Formula 1 Team story through print ads, online case studies, video testimonials and via Dell’s social platforms including Facebookand Twitter channels and its Flickr page for over two years.

Bryan Jones of Dell

AT&T is helping fans experience the fun and excitement of the race through a number of interactive events and activities. “Through our relationship with Red Bull Racing, AT&T stores in Austin, San Antonio and Dallas have displayed an authentic Red Bull Racing showcar for fans to see up close. AT&T is also participating in the Austin Fan Fest where customers, employees and racing fans can experience a replica Red Bull Racing pit wall, Red Bull Racing showcar and have a chance to learn about the AT&T No Texting While Driving movement,” stated Michael Bowling, Chief Marketing Officer at AT&T Business Solutions.” Bowling further explained that AT&T is reaching fans across the country by promoting a “What’s Your Number” sweepstakes through November 18th (www.attnumbersracing.com), awarding a chance to win an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the Red Bull Racing headquarters in the United Kingdom.

We asked Geoff Moore, Chief Marketing & Revenue Officer, at Circuit of The Americas about how they’re working with sponsors who aren’t receiving television coverage. “I wouldn’t say we worked around the TV issue as much as what we are offering augments the other marketing assets that they already have. For instance, Mobil 1 is an important supporter of McLaren. They are going to receive a lot of exposure during the race because of it.

Michael Bowling of AT&T Business Solutions

They also desire to communicate their message, which is that their superior product gives McLaren a racing edge, directly to race fans attending the event and people in the regional marketplace that are excited by the event. To do this, they buy outdoor media from local sources, they get experiential marketing opportunities downtown from us and they get experiential marketing opportunities at the track from Formula 1 and their team relationship.”

Follow Brandon on Twitter: @brandongutman

 

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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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