SponsorPulse Insight | Uncovering the Triple Crown of Motorsport

SponsorPulse takes a look at the Monaco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indy 500 to assess the opportunity for partners.

In sport, there are some achievements that seem so unattainable, they are perceived to be legendary or fabled per se. The idea of successfully completing these tasks is thought to be, in a sense, inconceivable. Examples such as the single-season Grand Slam of majors in tennis, or the Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing represent some of the most difficult accomplishments in the modern world of sport.

In motorsport, there is also a storied achievement that has historically eluded racers over the years. That is, of course, the Triple Crown of Motorsport (TCM), which is victories at the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and Formula One's Monaco Grand Prix. Often regarded as the most prestigious (unofficial) accomplishment in motorsport, the TCM has only ever been successfully achieved by one individual – the late Graham Hill. Over history, many drivers have attempted to achieve the feat, however only 19 drivers have competed in all three legs of the TCM and won at least one event.

Although there is a continuous debate between whether the Monaco Grand Prix or the Formula One drivers' championship should act as the third step of the TCM, there is no doubt that all three legs present promising sponsorship opportunities for brands looking to connect through the world of motorsport. Using SponsorPulse data, we took a deep dive into the Indy 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Monaco Grand Prix to identify the greatest strengths and opportunities for each competition.

F1’s reach makes Monaco Grand Prix exceptionally marketable in Italy

Formula One is the International Automobile Federation's (FIA) highest class of international single-seater auto racing and was ranked 14th in SportsPro’s 50 Most Marketable Properties (SP50MM) list in October. Widely regarded as one of the most important automobile races in the world, the Monaco Grand Prix was ranked 82nd in SP50MM, making it the highest-ranking Formula One event in a list which includes the likes of the Fifa World Cup, the Summer Olympic Games, and club soccer giants Real Madrid.

The annual race held at the Circuit de Monaco is one of the few international motorsport events that can draw millions of viewers across the globe. Its warranted reputation as the most challenging course in Formula One generates interest among both avid and casual motorsport fans alike. Utilising SponsorPulse data, we can see that the race presents its greatest sponsorship opportunity in Italy, where it generates a SponsorPulse Opportunity Score of 32. Our universal, insight-driven currency, the SponsorPulse Opportunity Score takes into consideration seven key metrics that measure behaviour, emotion, and potential sponsorship impact.

One of the main factors that contributes to the property’s strength in Italy is its sheer reach, where 55 per cent of the population engages with the property at least once a year. The country that presents the greatest potential in the future for the Monaco Grand Prix is Japan, where the race generates a momentum score of 28 per cent – the highest among the world’s largest markets. SponsorPulse measures momentum as a percentage of those engaged who expect their interest in a property to increase over the next 12 months. This measurement acts as a good indication of growth and potential for sponsors to consider when creating strategic partnerships.

Lastly, the market where the race has the highest percentage of frequent engagements is in the US. Another SponsorPulse metric, intensity outlines the percentage of people engaged that engage with a property at least once a week – providing more frequent opportunities to intercept and add value as a sponsor. The Monaco Grand Prix records an intensity level of 40 per cent in the US, which means that two-in-five Americans who engage with the Formula One series do so on a weekly basis.

Breaking down the 24 Hours of Le Mans through a sponsorship opportunity lens

The 24 Hours of Le Mans (24HLM) is the world’s oldest active endurance racing event. A major component of the FIA Endurance Championship, the 24HLM presents massive sponsorship opportunities for brands interested in this niche form of motorsport competition.

For reference, when measuring the largest international sports properties to create the SP50MM, the 24HLM ranked 102nd in the world. Comparing the motorsport property across 18 of the largest international markets allows us to identify where the property shows strength and promise for current/future partners. For example, 44 per cent of Spanish citizens engage with 24HLM each year, and one-in-four of these people engage with the property at least once per week. This demonstrates the appetite that Spain has for the motorsport and the reach that the race currently has in the European nation. Sticking with the intensity metric, SponsorPulse data shows that 42 per cent of Americans who engage with the 24HLM do so at least once per week. This is the highest number among all international markets, proving that sponsors have more opportunities to intercept through frequent interaction in the US than any other country in the world.

Two sponsor-impact metrics that we measure at SponsorPulse are consideration and favourability. Consideration is defined as the percentage of those engaged who would consider purchasing from a brand that sponsors the property in a way that they like. Favourability has a similar definition, but rather focuses on the percentage of those engaged who are more favourable of a brand because of the brand’s sponsorship of a property.

The countries that register the highest consideration levels for the 24HLM are South Africa (15 per cent), Japan (11 per cent), and France (ten per cent). When filtered by favourability, the top countries are once again Japan (16 per cent), South Africa (13 per cent), and France (11 per cent). As we can see, brands who partner with the 24HLM can expect stronger levels of affinity in these three countries if they sponsor the motorsport in a positive way.

Using SponsorPulse to dive deeper into the Indy 500 in the USA

The Indianapolis 500 is the prestigious automobile race held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (the Brickyard) and is a key event in the IndyCar Series. Known in the US as the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing', the Indy500 traditionally falls on the same weekend as the Monaco Grand Prix, but draws a massive amount of viewers, especially domestically where approximately 300,000 fans attend in person each year.

In the US, the Indy500 registers a SponsorPulse Oppportunity Score of 15 while the 24HLM and the Monaco Grand Prix both receive an Opportunity Score of ten. According to SponsorPulse data, 39 per cent of Americans engage with the Indy500 at least once a year and one-in-four of these people are excited about motorsport more broadly.

Of the 39 per cent that engage with the Indy 500 annually, more than one-in-three interact with the property on a weekly basis. To understand more about the Indy 500, we analysed the motorsport event and its parent IndyCar Series in America to identify the areas that it performs best.

SponsorPulse data suggests that IndyCar is strongest among white American males aged 25 to 39 and have a household income of US$100,000 or more. The purchasing categories that would benefit most from a partnership with the property are a telecommunication provider, a financial investment advisor, a tire manufacturer, and/or an automotive manufacturer. The digital platforms that are most utilised by people who engage with the sport are SoundCloud (58 per cent), HBO Now (55 per cent), YouTube TV (51 per cent), Apple Music (51 per cent), and Skype (50 per cent). Using the SponsorPulse platform, properties such as the Indy 500 can build the consumer profiles of their users and identify the best ways to connect with these groups of people.

Directions for continued growth, use of data

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, there has only ever been one racer to claim the TCM. The late Graham Hill is still the sole individual to have won the three different legs. While racers such as Juan Pablo Montoya, Fernando Alonso, and Jacques Villeneuve (insert Monaco Grand Prix vs Formula One title debate here) are only one event away from joining Hill, the likelihood of a second TCM victor looks slimmer each year that passes.  

Having said that, one achievement that these properties can certainly look forward to is the continued increase of interest in motorsports across the globe. Through various popular culture forums, motorsport properties have found ways to create awareness and excitement among populations of people that typically did not show interest these kinds of sports.

For example, the documentary series Formula One: Drive to Survive and the motion pictures Ford v Ferrari (2019) and And We Go Green (2020) have introduced motorsport to many who are now familiar with (and excited about) the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Formula One, and Formula E respectively. Motorsport series are also finding ways to grow their fanbases in new markets through celebrity associations such as the Leonardo DiCaprio/Formula E and Michael Jordan/Nascar partnerships. These properties should continue to find innovative ways to increase engagement and awareness among these populations that have typically been neglected over years past.

As the motorsport industry continues to evolve, marketing practitioners are beginning to utilise data and consumer insights on a regular basis to ensure they invest their dollars in the most optimal ways. Through the collection and analysis of data, organisations can streamline any marketing efforts to bolster their efficiency and provide the quickest return on investments. Motorsport properties and their partners should continue to leverage these services and maintain this progression that has introduced racing to so many new fans across the globe.

For more data on the Triple Crown of Motorsport, insights on other motorsport properties, or information about SponsorPulse, visit www.sponsorpulseimi.com.


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