Black Book Motorsport Forum Q&A Series: DHL’s Sabrina Kreienborg

Ahead of the Black Book Motorsport Forum we asked a number of our speakers for their thoughts on some key industry issues. In this edition we hear from Sabrina Kreienborg, head of global sponsorships at DHL.

Black Book Motorsport Forum Q&A Series: DHL’s Sabrina Kreienborg

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 third part of our Q&A Series ahead of the event, Sabrina Kreienborg, head of global sponsorships at DHL, offers her thoughts on some key issues in motorsport sponsorship.

What challenges does Formula One as a property give you as a brand, and what opportunities does it provide that other sports properties cannot?

Attracting more than 1.7 billion viewers in more than 200 countries, Formula One has a very strong annual reach and relevance in motorsport and enables DHL to showcase its unique spirit, strengths and highly-competitive services on a consistent basis to a truly global audience.

Through its global footprint, the race series also places particularly high demands on logistics. A tight racing calendar with race venues around the world, several back-to-back races – and in 2018 even a triple-header – comprising valuable, highly sensitive equipment calls for excellent logistics services, continuous improvement and innovation. Some of the solutions DHL has developed for Formula One are now also being used in other motor racing series. In addition, the experiences we make in Formula One enable us to develop specialised logistics solutions for other customers in the automotive industry, which contributes to growing our core business.

What stand-out activations do you have planned in the coming months?

When leveraging our global partnerships, we not only provide insights into the logistics, we also aim to provide fan content that contributes to an unforgettable experience – both on the ground at events and online via digital and social media. In some areas, DHL operates its own channels: the DHL Motorsport Facebook page has more than 650,000 fans. With our fan content via owned, earned, paid and partner channels, we reach a total of more than 600 million fans.

One of our key activations in 2018 just wrapped – we leveraged the first-ever Formula One triple-header event for a bespoke campaign focused on “the race behind the races”. The triple header occasion allowed us to showcase the capabilities of the DHL brand and the team behind the scenes who enables Formula One to take the greatest racing spectacle on the planet reliably around the world. Driven by a daily blog diary, vlogs and infographics, the theme became one of the top three topics of our Group in June based on gross reach.

Another stand-out activation currently running is a trophy design competition for the DHL Fastest Lap Award. Fans from around the word are invited to become part of the Formula One community by submitting their design proposals for the 2018 trophy which will be handed over to the winning team at the end of the season in Abu Dhabi.

What informed your decision to expand your partnership to sponsor the Formula One esports team? How will your activations differ here from other F1 activations?

The esports segment is growing exponentially with millions of fans and active players, reaching the important target group of digital natives with tailored brand messages. Taking the Formula One experience to this new audience was the key reason for DHL to become the first official partner of the F1 eSports series.

Furthermore, esports is now also a key component of our global sponsorship portfolio overall with DHL being a global partner of ESL One. Esports provide viewers with first-class entertainment while demanding a very high level of concentration, speed, tactical skill and teamwork skills from the players.

How else have you had to adapt your activations to keep pace with a changing sponsorship landscape?

As a sponsor in the motorsport industry, DHL has continuously leveraged its partnerships as a marketing platform in order to promote the company’s core competency and global expertise, and to strengthen the DHL brand. The focus of our activities has more and more evolved from brand representation – either at the race tracks or via TV broadcast opportunities – to offering social media content and interactive engagement formats, creating real “moments that deliver” for the fans. The media consumption habits of the new fan generations at the racing circuits have changed.

What new markets are you looking to target and how does your partnership with Formula One assist with that?

DHL is present in all countries that Formula One visits on its annual tour which gives us the opportunity for specific campaigns in all of the markets which host a race. We have a special focus on boosting our brand in the US and are delighted that the new Formula One ,mnagement also aims to increase the popularity of F1 in that market with a new media deal, a Fan Festival in Miami and a second race in 2020.

What new markets are you looking to target and how does your partnership with Formula One assist with that?

In light of changing media consumption behaviour, we believe that an entertaining story-telling approach as well as organic brand integration with focus on enhancing the fan experience will be key for maximizing the value-add a sponsor can create for the audience. This includes ways to digitalise the fan experience and an increased usage of innovative technologies, too – such as graphics, animations, augmentted reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences.

How has the space of sports sponsorship evolved in the time you’ve been working in it, and what trends or innovations do you think are most likely to shape the future of sports sponsorship in general?

Traditionally, sports sponsorship activation used to be focused on brand awareness building and hospitality. People today are constantly exposed to brands, news and social chatter, so it is a lot harder to really cut through with your messages and ensure your audience will recall it in a relevant way. Sponsorship today has to follow a clear strategy based on your core business and brand objectives to enable an authentic and relevant activation along the interest of your audiences as fans of particular sports.

When developing activation concepts, you need to take an outside in approach to come up with campaigns that truly add to the fan experience and allow for an organic brand integration. Based on our experience, it also important to pioneer and leverage new technologies for activation such as AR and VR to give examples. Sports sponsorship allows building emotional connections with your audiences around their personal interest and fans are open to engaging with brands when they add value, therefore I think it will further gain in relevance in the future.

Sabrina Kreienborg will be speaking at the Black Book Motorsport Forum at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel in London on 21st August, more information here