McLaren team principal Zak Brown has recommended F1’s commercial owners set up an advisory group to help steer its approach to non-technical areas such as social media.
The sport recently installed former Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali as its CEO, replacing Chase Carey who took over from Bernie Ecclestone when Liberty Media acquired the Formula One Group in 2017.
But many of its decisions still remain in the hands of the team principals who vote and Brown believes the lack of commercial nous within that group could hold back the sport’s growth in future.
“I am very comfortable with Formula 1 itself as a commercial entity, but the teams sometimes have the biggest say,” said Brown. “If I look at the 10 people around the table, there is certainly not anywhere near the commercial expertise.
“We’ll sit in a meeting and will talk about social media, I’m just using this as an example, and you probably have seven of the 10 guys sitting around the table that aren’t even on social media.
“But that is who is driving our social media conversations, so I think the sport could do with having a marketing council, an advisory group, whatever you want to call it, of people that have subject matter expertise.”
Since Liberty Media took over, the sport has reached out to fans for suggestions of how to adapt the show in the future, and Brown praised that approach for leading to the introduction of ideas like sprint qualifying.
But he believes that while fan suggestions can be beneficial, the sport would benefit from a permanent group that take that consumer research and steer the direction on areas where the teams do not have such expertise.
“A lot of what Formula 1 has done, which I think is the right thing to do as a consumer focused company, they go out to fans and they have asked fans,” said Brown.
“They have asked both avid fans and what you call trend fans, which is more like your Netflix audience, people that are just getting tuned into Formula 1. A lot of the ideas that they have are coming from the fanbase.
“I think [that] is the right way to make decisions. It is not 10 people sitting in a room deciding what hundreds of millions of people want.
“If you are Unilever, the CEO doesn’t go and try the deodorant and decide ‘perfect’. You go out and do consumer research. Formula 1 under Chase’s tenure started to really use consumer research and fan research to drive some thinking.
“How do you develop social media? As an example, you go to a school where all the people are way more savvy than we are and you go ‘Alright class, here’s your school project for today’.
“I think the output of a social media strategy, I’d have a lot more confidence in coming from a group that is actually savvy and engaged in social media than seven of 10 guys that aren’t even on social media.”
What do you think?
I'd love to know where they've been asking the fans, I've not seen anything. The first thing the fans want is to not be charged like a wounded bull to watch the sport they love. Bring back free to air if you care about the fans so much !!
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