With the Black Book Motorsport Forum growing on the horizon we asked some key personnel at this year's event for a small preview of the kind of insight delegates can expect at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel in London on 21st August.
In the second part of our Q&A Series ahead of the event, Feld Entertainment's vice president of global partnerships, Dave Muye, offers his thoughts on some key issues for the electric motor racing series.
What are the differences between motorsport sponsorship and other sports?
Motorsports have long been known for the edge-of-seat excitement they provide to fans. The speed, adrenaline, man vs machine, coupled with the inherent danger creates an environment unlike that of any other form of sport and entertainment. Something about this mixture creates incredible fan passion, brand loyalty and a desire to engage with those brands that support their sport. Motorsport, and Supercross in particular, have always done a great job of providing unapparelled access to the stars of the sport. This access and the affinity it supports leads to great fan engagement and interaction, not just at the live event but on all of our social channels as well. If you look at the things Hookit is measuring, motorsport properties, including Supercross and the drivers, riders and athletes within are often at the top of the fan interaction measurements. This all boils down to having a valuable platform to share with partners that are always looking for ways to have a meaningful conversation with consumers.
How can sponsors help you reach new demographics?
We are very fortunate to work with some tremendous partners that really help us engage with a wide variety of fans. Our portfolio of sponsors allow us to connect and keep the sport always positioned with a strong and diverse audience. In many instances we have been able to work with our partners to create custom programs focused on Supercross that deliver against their organisational objective.
A great example is what we have been able to do with Toyota the last two years. In 2017 and 2018 we created separate, 16-part thematic-content series around the Toyota iniatives of mobility/veteran support and female empowerment respectively. Warfighter Made and Make up To Mud were both very successful and carried the messaging across our social, digital and broadcast channels. Last year with our partner Milestone we also launched the first version of Monster Energy Supercross - The Official Videogame. Having an organic way to speak to gamers, casual fans and youth through the video game has been great and we are looking at ways to increase those engagement opportunities with future releases. Monster Energy, as our long-standing title partner provides opportunities to connect the sport with a broad and varied fan base. Its involvement with other action and motor sports along with a wide grouping of athletes from football star Rob Gronkoawski to the race horse American Pharaoh provide plenty of opportunities to work together and reach new demographics.
What kind of opportunities does social media open up for brand engagement with fans?
For Supercross, much like any sports team or league fans are coming to our channels for results, highlights, news, athlete content and behind-the-scenes insight. In 2019, the rules on social for brands will continue to rapidly change and evolve. We will keep an eye on the trends with continued focus on giving the fans what they want to consume while delivering a meaningful brand experience that keeps our fans engaged. As part of creating a platform that delivers content across the sport throughout the year it offers many opportunities to include our partners in meaningful interactions and provide an opportunity to tell a story or share a message with a passionate fan base.
How has Supercross tried to take advantage of that?
We are able to leverage each Supercross platform differently based on the individual types of content we plan to share. On Twitter we see great engagement when we live tweet during the TV broadcast. Twitter is a great place to get our fans sharing, debating and having an open dialogue with one another. On Instagram, 'stories' have been a great place to post real-time storytelling content live from the races for exceptional behind-the-scenes content.
I would make the argument that our social team is creating some industry-leading content and here is why: we have unlimited access to every area of the event. To my knowledge, the National Football League (NFL) or National Basketball Assocation (NBA) for example does not allow game action on social media and does not grant the social team access into the locker room to capture and post content. With Supercross we can and have posted content from our athletes in the pits, at the race rig and during intense moments both on and off the race track, including in-race action in real time. Facebook is where we leverage audience data and purchase funnel strategies to get compelling content in front of new audiences so we can grow our fanbase and get people into the consideration process of attending a race live when we are in their area. Our YouTube channel has hundreds of hours of video content for every level of fan from the most passionate, long-time fans, to the new fan looking to learn more. We are able to place long form storytelling features here and drive to it using the other website and social platforms.
How do you see the sponsorship model changing in the future?
The sponsorship model is in a constant state of change and evolution. The difference between a typical sport sponsorship when I started my career to today is dramatic. Brands are continuing to seek good content as a major component of a sponsorship and it is up to rights holders to build value based partnerships with this as a core pillar of the program. Fans today are hungry for a look behind the scenes and increased access. Working with partners to create these unique experiences provide ways for them to share highly sought after money can’t buy experiences to their customers but also makes for an organic content capture opportunity for the brand as well. This ability for brands to provide rewarding experiences will continue to increase in the coming years and rights holders that figure out how to best deliver will stand out.
Feld Entertainment’s diverse portfolio of properties are uniquely positioned to blend sport and entertainment that enhances fan interaction and engagement, because it is in the DNA of what we do. Pre-event fan zones and pit parties that provide access to the athletes, food and beverage options, consumer products, as well as interactive activations create a festival like experience perfect for sponsor involvement and fan interaction. Finally, I believe that we will continue to see increased importance placed on quantifiable measurements to show return and direct impact on business iniatives. Building each partnership with the end result in mind and a clear picture of what a successful program looks like will be key in building long, sustainable relationships.