‘Gritty, visceral, competitive’: Formula E gears up to move away from eco-friendly image

Ahead of the new season, which begins later this month, Formula E has launched a major brand campaign it hopes will show the world the sport is more than just electric cars.

Environmentally-friendly motor sport Formula E is undergoing a major brand refresh in an attempt to showcase it in a more exciting, grittier and competitive light.

Launching this week, The Fiercely Driven campaign comes ahead of Season 5’s first race on 15 December and aims to ensure the electric car championship is known for more than just its sustainability credentials.

“The brand campaign we are launching is consistent with [our brand purpose],” Formula E’s new CMO, Jerome Hiquet, tells Marketing Week.

“Today, the younger generation doesn’t trust in a brand if it doesn’t believe it is authentic in what it is saying. Now we have our product innovation and mission aligned we can come with Fiercely Driven as a campaign and claim that we are disruptive, unpredictable and unconventional. Because we are.”

Campaign imagery comprises the new futuristic-looking Formula E cars with “fierce” creatures including a scorpion with a sting in its tail, two stags locking horns and a tiger bearing its teeth.

In line with the brand refresh, Formula E is launching a dynamic second-generation car and a new race format for the upcoming season. This includes a new ‘Attack Mode’, which briefly unlocks about 300 horsepower of additional output, while drivers will be able to go twice go through a zone off the racing line to get a short-term speed boost.

Formula E is also looking to become more “fan-centric” by putting “gamification” at its core. It is introducing on-site gaming zones that will be open to fans in each city.

We should be able to have a 365-days, lifetime interaction with our fans.

Jerome Hiquet, Formula E

And, in what Formula E claims is a first-of-its-kind for motor sports, it is currently testing ‘live ghost racing’ technology – “the ultimate fan participation tool” – that will allow fans to race drivers in real-time via a video game.

“Season 5 is going to be a gamechanger for the organisation in the sense of how we’re going to reach new audiences and new fans,” Hiquet says.

“We should be able to have a 365-day, lifetime interaction with our fans. We need to engage people because their attention span is more and more limited.”

This is where marketing is evolving to be less around pure advertising and more about engaging in a different form, Hiquet says – whether that is around Formula E races, content or experiential activity.

The first race of the season will begin in Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, and will be broadcast live on BBC Red Button, BBC Online, as well as YouTube TV, which Hiquet says will play a much more important role for Formula E going forward as it looks to introduce a younger generation to the sport.

“We want to be accessible to any audience,” Hiquet says. “If you’re watching on broadcast or social media or YouTube, it’s very likely the age is going to be different. We have to show an experience that covers all the different ages.

“But if you want to do that and reach a younger audience, the way you are creating your content has to be different.”

Hiquet says Formula E is spending “a lot of money” on getting the right content, but paid media is playing a big role to build up the awareness of the brand on a global level.

The digital ecosystem also makes “a lot of sense,” he says, but outdoor and radio will be especially powerful mediums in the run-up to races, particularly in the host city, as will pop-up experiential advertising – as long as the advertising is “well integrated” into the city.

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  • Rob Andrews 7 Dec 2018 at 11:17 am

    I’ve just got a full house on “2018 marketing cliché bingo” – where do I claim my prize?

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