Force India, the Formula 1 team from Dr Vijay Mallya, is embarking on its long journey to race into the big league of F1 teams. With an increased investment for the upcoming year of $120 million, the team has surely set its plans high. The goodwill message from Shah Rukh Khan to promote this initiative and a 360-degree multimedia campaign expected to break soon to boot the team, will commence its foray into the rough and tough glamorous world of F1 racing in the months to come. Speaking at the launch, Dr Mallya was not quite optimistic about his team’s chances at winning metals in the current year, but was confident of seeing many more podium finishes by the time India has a F1 track in 2010.
Refusing to divulge any marketing budgets, Dr Mallya insisted that the marketing budgets for the team would be objective specific. “As with my other brands, we will not spend a lot of money for marketing like classic MNCs, but spend it effectively that will deliver results,” he added. Pointing out that Kingfisher will be a sponsor just like any other brand, he noted that the name ‘Force India’ was specifically chosen, as it would allow other brands to come on-board without any conflicts.
Vikram Malhotra, Marketing Head, Force India F1 team, clarified that Shah Rukh Khan brought forward the message about the team as a “goodwill measure and his passion for the sport, and not as a brand ambassador for the team”. Force India has roped in Percept D’Mark to handle the on-air campaign currently, while Manav Menon has shot the film with Khan. An online marketing effort has been the setting up of ‘Clubforce’, a community portal for the sport on the team website Forceindiaf1.com. The website has been designed and maintained by Percept Knorigin, the digital division from Percept Holdings.
The company has not yet decided on a full time creative and media agency for its marketing activities. No agency names were forthcoming from Malhotra, although he said, “We will not be calling for a pitch process as we have in mind the communication package required for the campaign. We will partner with an agency who has the vision and the passion for this sport.”
Speaking about the 360-degree marketing efforts planned by the company, Malhotra stressed that the objective of the company was to make it the most sought after team to be partnered with in India. “Given the huge costs involved in running a F1 team, the budget will be enough to reflect our objective. We will be quite aggressive on print and online, with stress on on-ground activations too. One of these will be the Go Karting championship announced by Dr Mallya.”
Commenting on the sponsors already on-board along with Kingfisher, Malhotra noted that there had been a tremendous amount of interest generated in the industry, with many Indian and global brands with an Indian outlook expressing their willingness to partner.
Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil will be the drivers for this season, with Vitantonio Liuzzi as the test and reserve driver. With such monies coming in and interest levels for the sport rising in the country, we can hope that F1 might become next only to cricket in the country.