Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I was wrong, well not as wrong as Ferrari
I have to admit watching over this past few months the sluggish lead up to Singapore's F1, both from a marketing/sponsorship perspective and a logistics and engineering one, I kind of thought the Singapore F1 might run about as smooth as a Ferrari refueling stop.
However from my spectacularly well located seats on the first corner (thanks to Marketing's good friends at ESPN - see pic) I was delighted to be completely wrong about it in the end.
Apart from the sheer animal enjoyment of being that close to that much horsepower and breathtaking technology crammed into a tiny carbon fiber shell, I think for brand Singapore, along with chief sponsor Singtel and all those who threw their hats into the ring with various sponsorship deals and those who took up hosting options, it was a hugely successful event.
There was no other place to be over the weekend then jammed up against tens of thousands of others from the obsessed perennial fans, like the brave lad who painted his body in support of the US and its great hope, Scott Speed (yeah it's really his name), through to the excitable F1 virgins. But it took me to see some of the footage on the box last night on BBC to realise just how impressed the world was with Singapore's F1.
As for the branding, the Singtel stuff was everywhere and while many suspected it had under-leveraged the lead up to the event itself, the livery on the track beamed around the world was extremely important in establishing the telco as a brand name globally. How useful that is depends on how far over the horizon the telco thinks it wants to scale its business.
But the real winner was definitely Singapore. When you live there the continuous claims that it is a world class city with world class facilities and service become a little monotous (particularly if you have been exposed to the other side of that service imperative). But to see that illuminated track snake around some of Singapore's finest features,the organisational planning that had gone into the trackside event and the ease with which it was seemingly pulled off certainly gets you on board.
Yes there did seem to be an absence of long sighted F1 marketing strategy, but then the stands were full and while the sponsors and government did a reasonable job of trying to include everyday Singaporeans in this major event, the reality is F1 isn't a sport for the heartlanders its a high cost sport that demands of its sponsors large amounts of cash and so investments have to be maximised.
Like the Olympics (which incidentally, according to Mediacorp saw less viewers than the F1 among Singaporeans - 780,000 compared to 765,000 for the Beijing Olympics) its largely watched on TV by the people who live closest to it.
So offering cut priced seats and doing tactical ticket sales marketing isn't really practical, you need premium clients who want big hosting deals. That then, according to a number of folk I spoke to over the weekend is why marketing didn't seem tobe omnipresent in the lead up to F1 - a lot of it was B2B and relationship based.
The success of the F1 will do more to market Singapore as a destination for international leisure and business tourists than any of the TVCs produced under the Uniquely Singapore badge because what makes an international destination is a destination that can host the world and the F1 proved Singapore can.
Of course I can't write about the F1 without pointing out where the organisers dropped the ball, ie the beer tents - the lines were crazy (although not as crazy as those strange animal figurines in the beer tent - see pic - does anyone know what that was about?). In fact I was sitting near a bunch of Aussies who swore they would never come back because it was so hard to get a beer.
Thankfully the first few laps served to both drown out their moaning and distract them from what they were complaining about in the first place.
Thankfully my hosts had wisely sat four beers down in front of me before the race began.