Swiss Bank UBS are a key partner within Formula One. Working directly with the Mercedes AMG Petronas team and with Formula One Management the bank is heavily invested in the sport and will continue to be for some time to come. In an exclusive interview for JWGP, we explore what initially attracted UBS to the sport, how they measure success, and the future direction of the partnership and the sport in general.
A key point of interest in this interview is around the audience UBS are targeting or seeking to attract with the partnership. Whilst other banking partners within Formula One use the sport as a platform to attract a diverse audience, the UBS approach is geared heavily towards its Wealth Management customers and the audience demographic in that sector. This focused approach explains in some way why despite being one of the more significant partners to the Mercedes AMG Petronas team in terms of investment, branding on the car and with drivers is minimal.
- What initially attracted UBS to F1?
Formula 1 is a global sport that attracts over 400m unique viewers every season. It operates for nearly 12 months of the year and touches all major markets that UBS operate in
- Can you provide a background into how the UBS FOM and Mercedes Deal came about?
UBS entered Formula 1 in 2010 as a Global Partner, and has grown and diversified its investments in the sport since then. Formula 1 provides UBS with global brand awareness, an ability to invest in the creation of deeper client relationships through at-track client programs around the world, and a platform to both amplify brand stature and change brand perceptions. By adding the partnerships with the MERCEDESAMG PETRONAS Formula One Team and ex-Formula 1 legends, such as Sir Jackie Stewart, Mika Hӓkkinen and David Coulthard, UBS create and deliver truly unique at-track experiences for their clients. By working together with Formula 1 experts, such as James Allen, UBS produces engaging content that drives social media campaigns around topics such as strategy and insight. Further Formula 1 insiders such as Susie Wolff were also included to add even greater depth, diversity and appeal to the program.
- What is the target audience for the UBS F1 engagement model from a social media, print & online media, branding, and hospitality perspective?
The key audience is UBS Wealth Management customers, who can be classified into existing and new clients. On the one hand we aim to increase brand visibility in our key markets and on the other we try to enhance brand relevance by distributing insightful content to our target audience. The distribution of this content is purely via digital and social channels. Looking at the hospitality, it focuses more on existing clients, who are invited to a select number of events where we try to give exclusive access to the sport, the drivers and our ambassadors.
- The use of UBS branding within Formula One and the Mercedes AMG Petronas team is minimal. With limited on track signage and team branding featuring only on drivers and pit areas. Can you explain why, despite significant investment UBS have taken this route?
The partnership with the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One team provides UBS with the opportunity to create truly unique at track experiences, as well as access to the team and their star drivers for content.
- What key performance indicators (KPI’s) do UBS have around the respective partnerships?
KPIs are set alongside the strategy, and continue to evolve year by year – metrics such as client satisfaction, brand exposure and brand equity all feed into an analysis of success.
- Have experiences from the F1 world influenced any aspect of UBS or vice versa?
It would be hard to say if there has been any direct influence, but UBS and Formula 1 share common traits. And these similarities are what UBS enjoys exploring for the fans and followers of the sport. Traits such as strategy, insight and thought leadership are common to both UBS and Formula 1 teams and the series.
- How would UBS assess the 2016 season so far?
As a partner of the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One team we are pleased with the team’s success so far. With the top teams hot on their heels, it promises to become an exciting season.
- What’s next for UBS with Formula One Management and Mercedes AMG Petronas?
The experiential and content plans for 2016 are very exciting. UBS will continue to deliver insights into the sport, the strategies for success and how Formula 1 is pushing the boundaries in numerous disciplines to as broad an audience as possible.
- What is your view on the move of F1 coverage towards on the pay TV trend for F1 coverage in Europe?
The commercial side of the series has pursued a trend of moving from free-to-air broadcasting to pay-tv. This is a business decision which we cannot comment on. However, with the growth of social media in recent years, we feel more people than ever are watching the sport, commenting on it or are aware of race results.
The UBS relationship to Formula One as a partner is an interesting one. The bank has committed to a strategy of using the sport as a platform to reward and attract the wealthy. With the agreement heading into it’s 7th year it is clear all parties involved are seeing a return on the relationship. As a prestigious brand involved in the sport similar to Rolex, Chandon, or Emirates. UBS through their social media and digital interactions have developed a profile as an aspirational partner, the banking partner fans will think of when they reach a certain level of financial wealth in their private lives. They do this at the same time as rewarding those who have already achieved such success in a way which ensures customer loyalty.
It would be interesting to hear from other partners in the sport taking a similar approach.