Formula E talks the talk before the racing


To a casual motorsport fan, a series’ marketing campaign may not be that interesting, but with Formula E still in its infancy, today’s news about the global marketing campaign reveals key aspects of Formula E.

While Formula E has been on a mission to promote and garner interest, the plans today show the first ever race promotion strategy, showing clever awareness of the Beijing ePrix‘s location, the Birds Nest, as well as China’s social conventions such as Weibo.

The plans have been given the moniker of “Drive the Future,” and Formula E describes the plans as a “‘unique and innovative new sports entertainment brand that will transform cities around the world as the season progresses.”

It’s a bold and ambitious claim and to help achieve their goals, Formula E have released a film showing off the Renault-Spark‘s pace.

There is more to it than jus TV promotion. For Beijing, the film will also be shown on China’s Sina and Weibo networks, once again showing Formula E’s adeptness for social media.

In more conventional means, a 600m sq animated poster will be placed on the side of the seven star Pangu Plaza Hotel in Beijing, overlooking the streets surrounding the Olympic ‘Bird’s Nest’ Stadium where the 20 Formula E drivers will race around.

“With one month to go before our first race, we’re very excited to be unveiling our new Drive the Future campaign for the FIA Formula E Championship,” said Charles Davies, Head of Marketing. “We believe Formula E has all the ingredients to appeal to a new, younger generation of motorsport fans who want to enjoy close, city-centre racing combined with the latest music and entertainment.”

While the claim of transforming cities seems over the top, Formula E has had great success in promotion and marketing so far. The FanBoost idea, where fans choose their favourite driver to gain an advantage, has attracted significant attention and debate still continues over the validity of the idea.

More recently, the acclaimed Forza Motorsport 5 Xbox game, in cooperation with Formula E, released the Renault-Spark to gamers for free, not only showing off the series, but giving fans, and those curious, a taste of the unique car’s characteristics.

Outside of the virtual world, the car has already been used for stunts such as the Westminister Bridge promotion, providing not only video content, but raising interest  to go with the online and print coverage.

With the pinnacle of motorsport, Formula One, oft criticised for a lack of promotion, not to mention the out of touch attitude to the changing world of media, Formula E’s encouraging start can only bode well for the series and its long term future.

Why the endless self promotion? Formula E’s own targets. The series from the off has stated its desire to improve the lowly image of the electric car, promote the innovation of  electric technology and support sustainable energy.

Over a year ago, Alejandro Agag stated: “Electric cars are still perceived as slow, even as ugly or not cool, something that people don’t want to buy for their day-to-day lives,” said Agag. “We want Formula E to be the place where all those technologies are tested, where all those advances happen.” 

A strong media presence is only half the battle, if the racing is a good as the marketing Agag’s beliefs and dreams in the electric car and sustainability may well end up a reality.