Vietnam will join the Formula 1® calendar in 2020 with a new race in the capital city, Hanoi. The inaugural race will take place in April 2020 and will begin “a thrilling street race in the heart of the city”.
In many other countries, brand owners are helping their fans experience the fun and excitement of the race through a number of interactive events and activities.
Matthew Marsh, champion racer, Formula 1 TV analyst and CEO of EDJ – a motorsport consultancy, talks to Vietnam Insider about how his work with sponsors in other countries, as well as sport marketing opportunities in Vietnam.
As a specialist consultancy helping brands assess (and enter into) partnerships in motor sport eg. F1 and MotoGP. What do you think about the opportunities for the brands owner in Vietnam ?
The Grand Prix in Hanoi in April 2020 makes the topic of Formula 1 relevant. It’s also fresh because, as far as I can see, brands in Vietnam have not used the theme previously.
Consumers associate F1 with positive brand values such as: performance, exclusivity, international, premium.
And the sport offers many opportunities for authentic story-telling because it’s such a large and complex business. Of course team-work and success are themes that can be used across many sports. With Formula 1 there’s also technology, innovation, logistics, data analysis… and so on.
There’s a perception that a partnership in Formula 1 must be hugely expensive. It doesn’t have to be! And there are a number of ways to make it very cost-effective. For example F1 teams create a library of high-quality moving images. These can be used by their partners who avoid the high cost of shooting a TV commercial from scratch.
You have worked with Budweiser, Epson, Gillette, Hisense and NTT Communications. How did you support them to promote their brands in motor sport?
EDJ operates like a media agency. We’re focused exclusively on one medium – motor sport! We know very well all the rights-holders ie. the leagues (such as F1), the events (Vietnam GP, etc), the teams (Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, etc) and the athletes (Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, etc). But we’re completely independent and consider the brands to be our clients.
We start by understanding the business or brand objectives. Then discuss the type of marketing activities and tools that will be required to achieve those objectives. With a clear understanding we can engage with rights-holders and help brands negotiate for the marketing benefits they actually need.
For some it’s brand exposure, for others use of team logos and imagery, perhaps hospitality for clients and prospects – or a theme for internal engagement.
Our job is to help brands leverage these benefits at an affordable price.
How did you become a motor sport consultant?
I used to race cars myself. To make progress I needed commercial support. So I had to work out why brands would spend money with me. This taught me to find out what was needed and then deliver it – cost-effectively.
For example I often competed in supporting races at Formula 1 Grands Prix – such as the Porsche Carrera Cup. For some of my commercial partners this was a way for them to be involved in the big event in a way that was both less expensive but also gave them and their guests a direct and emotional involvement.
These days I still think and work the same way. I just don’t need to wear a crash helmet and the suit I wear isn’t fire proof…
Why brands-owners in Vietnam should use the Grand Prix (and the rising interest in F1) for brand marketing or business development?
We’ve talked about the relevance of Formula 1 in the minds of consumers in Vietnam. And ‘image transfer’ by association with the sport. Plus the themes that are authentic in F1 and can be applied to brands, products and services.
Beyond this there’s the way a Vietnamese brand could use association with Formula 1 to aid international expansion. A partnership in the sport says: “we’re serious.”
And Formula 1 is famous for it’s high-end client entertainment. A Grand Prix is much more than a motor race – it’s a lifestyle event!
Did you have any reservations about working with brands owner in Vietnam as a foreign consultancy?
I’m British but I have been living in Asia for almost 30 years – based in Hong Kong and with business dealings across the region. I enjoy very much visiting Hanoi and Saigon and doing business here. It’s a fast-growing economy with a lot of enthusiasm and a good sense of humour.