Born in 2012, the first few seasons for Formula E were a struggle. The cars were ugly, slow and battery limitations meant drivers had to switch from one to another half-way through the race. Holding their races on F1 circuits with retied F1 drivers didn’t help either. With track attendance and TV viewership low, the sport was a few races away from bankruptcy. In a sentence, the series was seen as a Diet Coke version of Formula One.
While Formula E’s cars would always be slower, silent and emission free, these qualities contained a hidden advantage - if we reframed and shifted the context. On F1 circuits Formula E were uncompetitive. But on the streets of the world’s capital - where F1 could not race, because of the noise and pollution - Formula E could create a new and thrilling category of motorsport. We called it the City Street Racing Series.
Fortune favours the first
By reframing electric racing away from environmental themes towards a more urban identity, we could limit unfavourable comparisons to other forms of racing and create a new category of sport.
Changing the game
Based on the new positioning, a policy decision was made to stop all races on F1 circuits and henceforth only race on city streets. New in race innovations like Attack Mode and Fan Boost would take the new motorsport to the urban masses.
Race cars reinvented
Based on the new urban theme, the design language was updated to reflect a far more aggressive posture and stance. Aerodynamics of the car prioritised reduction of dirty air to encourage more wheel to wheel racing. The second generation car was launched in time for the 2019 season.
Everyone wants a piece
The new strategy was used as a key selling in tool to secure new city race locations in New York, Rome, Santiago, Sanya, Bern and Riyadh.
New look, new voice
A new visual identity channeled the urban environment with a unique visual city lexicon and typeface. A refreshed colour palette intended to drive stand out and communicate the power of electricity. Finally a new tone of voice toned down the moral worthiness of eco messages adopting a more aggressive urban attitude.
The new strategy also helped attract leading OEM brands like Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche
The new racing series also attracted a new title sponsor, Swiss robotics firm ABB – for a record $100 million sponsorship
race attendees (2018), up from 220,000 (2017)
Average race TV audience (2018), up from 18.6 million (2017)
+ 318 million
Online views: Total video views across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube combined is + 318 million (2018), up 675% from previous year
> 1 million
Online followers: > 1 million combined organic followers (2018) across social platforms, up 55% from 2017
Younger audiences: 347% growth in the number of 13-to-17-year-old fans engaging with online content (2018) relative to 2017
Stronger valuation: From brink of bankruptcy to $900m USD valuation
Chief Marketing Officer
* Work completed while at Prophet, London