Aston Martin Formula One Draws Major U.S. Tech Sponsors
Historically, the participation of US companies in Formula 1 has been relatively limited. But since Aston Martin announced their return to the sport after a 61-year absence, two big-name local tech companies have made multi-million dollar financial commitments on the open wheel racing team. In January, Cognizant Technology Solutions was signed as the title sponsor of the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula 1 team. Later that morning, SentinelOne (valued over $ 3 billion as of November 20) will be named an Official Cyber Security Partner. While COVID-19 has undeniably made it harder for sports teams to sell sponsorships, Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One (known as Racing Point last season) made American tech companies, which largely benefited from the pandemic, more willing to invest in the U.S. Sport than ever before.
Our Opinion: To be clear, there are some US companies associated with Formula 1 (Coca-Cola, Dell Technologies and Amazon Web Services). But for every American company that sponsors the sport, or one of its teams, there are dozens of European partners. Jefferson Slack, managing director of the Aston Martin Cognizant team, attributed this phenomenon to the fact that Formula 1 "was never part of the cultural DNA in the USA".
While F1 is still largely ignored by American sports fans, technology has sparked the age of globalization and allowed companies to increasingly expand their business overseas. With races in 21 international cities this year (plus Austin, Texas), Slack says Formula 1 is “a great option [for businesses] to expand their marketing presence. The sport reaches a global audience in ways that many other sports don't - especially on a B2B and C-suite basis. "
Not only does Formula 1 have a global reach, it also differs from most sports real estate in the sense that "it's rooted in performance and technology," said Aston Martin's CEO. This way, corporate partners can use sport as a platform to tell a global tech story. “When a brand is looking to showcase their products and is in the technology, [F1] is a really sexy way to demonstrate what [you] can do. Essentially, the reason [teams] win or lose is because their technology is better [or worse than the competition]. You wouldn't say the same thing about baseball, soccer, hockey, or basketball, ”Slack said.
Daniel Bernard, Sentinel's CMO, echoed these feelings. American tech companies are leaning towards Formula One, Bernard said, because it's "a highly technical sport with a global audience that matches our makeup and shopper audiences".
One would not believe that in the midst of a global pandemic, there would be a good time to sell sponsorships - especially a brand that has not been involved in F1 racing for more than six decades. “COVID has eliminated many [potential sponsorship] categories. Categories that would [otherwise] be affected, ”Slack said (think hotels or airlines). However, the racing team manager recalled, "Tech has done well during the pandemic and Formula 1 was able to take advantage of that." Slack estimates that 75% of the new Top Partners on the Aston Martin Cognizant team are "tech-related".
Given the number of successful tech companies in the U.S. and the direction Formula 1 is headed (remember, F1 is owned by American mass media company Liberty Media), Slack suggested that American tech companies investing in the sport are likely to be the trend would continue. In fact, he said, “It will speed up a lot when there are more races in the United States. when [domestic] brands can view F1 not only as an international game, but also as a great domestic game from a marketing and exposure point of view. “F1 currently has only one US race scheduled, but there is talk of adding a new race or two on home soil.
While U.S. tech companies are more willing than ever to invest in Formula 1, it can't be denied that Aston Martin's return to the sport after a 61-year absence also led Cognizant and SentinelOne to decide to partner with the team. "It made too good sense to continue investing in the SentinelOne brand alongside such a historic organization not to pursue it," said Bernard. The revenue of the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula 1 team is up 300-400% year over year.
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