Formula One: Why Mumm Champagne chose Formula E over F1

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As the 2015 Formula One World Championship drew to a close, so did a 15-year partnership the sport held with Mumm Champagne. Following a period of extensive analysis in which fan association of the brand with Formula One was disappointingly low, the need for a change in direction was clear.  Realising the brand could no longer rely on the pull of Formula One, Mumm Champagne, under the guidance of Carl Gurdjian, embarked upon a bold strategy focusing their motorsport efforts on Formula E.

Having been involved with the sport since day one as something of a silent partner, acting predominately as a supplier, the 2015/2016 season saw Mumm Champagne become a leading partner in the Championship. Free from the restrictions partners have experienced within Formula One, Mumm Champagne have pioneered unique activation projects with the objective of bringing and immersing fans into the world of Formula E in every way imaginable.

Be it with the award winning podium celebration which takes place not in the confides of the pitlane but in the fan village itself, allowing fans to celebrate alongside the drivers; or the instant video content posted across the Mumm Champagne Social Media channels under the #DareWinCelebrate.

Learning from their time as partners within Formula One the brand has realised they must do much more than simply be a logo on the podium and something drivers spray themselves with to celebrate victory. Within their Formula E relationship Mumm Champagne are investing as much into activation as they are endorsement. They are a premium brand and they position themselves as such, but this positioning through Formula E is done in such a way as to make it aspirational rather than unobtainable.

Formula E is in its infancy. It is easy to forget the series has only just completed it’s second season. Those running the sport are young, the appreciation for social media engagement, for listening and responding to fans, to adapting the product, is possibly more developed than those in other series. There is a genuine willingness to succeed and develop a mutually beneficial environment.  This approach is causing concern within F1 with leading teams citing Formula E as their main challenger when pitching to new potential partners. It is incredible to think that the series has achieved all of this in only two seasons.

At this point I must add a disclaimer. I attended the closing weekend of the second Formula E season as a guest of Mumm Champagne. Rather than suggesting this experience has left me with a biased opinion of the partnership I would say it has offered me a more informed view. In my time as a motorsport fan I have been fortunate enough to experience the F1 paddock as a team guest. The experience was something I will forever hold dear, and to be honest something I thought would be difficult to surpass. Spending the weekend as a guest of Mumm Champagne has made me reconsider this opinion.

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The nature of a Formula E event is something of great appeal to the brand. They are of course fully immersed into the race itself, but Formula E for them is much more than this. They view each round as 50% racing, 50% celebration. Through the 2015/2016 season Mumm Champagne have used Formula E as the platform to launch the Grand Cordon in each of the locations visited. This launch would take the form of inclusion into the podium celebration alongside a driver ambassador programme. Through the driver ambassador programme drivers work directly with Mumm Champagne, engaging with media & new partners to boost not only the series but also the drivers’ individual profile. In addition to the driver ambassador programme,  Mumm Champagne work with other partners involved with the series in a cross pollination of promotion and B2B opportunities, working collaboratively to achieve a win win situation.

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As a guest of Mumm Champagne I was privileged enough to be taken around the circuit on a hot lap in a BMW i8, to interview Jean-Éric Vergne and to have almost unlimited access to the paddock. This itself was a privilege. Greater still was to come.  Following the conclusion of the championship on Sunday, after a cheeky email, I received a call inviting me to the season closing Gala dinner held at the British Museum. The event was magnificent; it was an honour to attend. I was sitting at the Abt table for the evening and after the events during the race earlier in the day I was expecting a somewhat frosty atmosphere. The experience was quite the opposite. After an opening speech from Alejandro Agag, Lucas Di Grassi asked if he could address the room. Keen to put the final result of the season behind him he congratulated Sébastien Buemi, putting any differences on the track behind them. He went on to speak with great eloquence of his passion for Formula E. He is proud to be part of the series and has a genuine belief that they are part of history. He and everyone in the room shared a sentiment that Formula E represents the future of motorsport. The series is one filled with optimism. There is a will to succeed and share success throughout the series. This is something Mumm Champagne have encapsulated in their approach to partnering with the championship.

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Mumm Champagne is a brand of celebration. Following the Gala dinner, to round out what has become one of the most surreal weekends I have encountered in motorsport I was also invited to the Mumm Champagne After Party. An event attended by over 500 guests including drivers, managers, partners; everyone and anyone involved in the sport. Any differences of the race or the season put aside, the sole purpose of the evening was to celebrate. I was asked part way through the evening how I might approach a write up on Mumm Champagne in Formula E and it struck me, I could not imagine anything close to this experience being possible in F1 with so many vested interests and egos in the way. I will always be an F1 fan at heart, but I can see the Formula E, not only in it’s racing but in everything it does really could lead the future of Motorsport. I was left with no question as to why Mumm Champagne left F1 to focus on Formula E, and why it was the right call.

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