“Sports marketing is different from other forms of marketing,” states Mansi Tripathy, Chief Marketing Officer, Shell Lubricants India. However, for most marketers today, associating with a sporting event, sponsoring a team or even having a sportsperson as a brand ambassador is part of the marketing mix.
The reason – the reach and more importantly, garnering the undivided attention of the target audience, especially during big ticket sporting events. But, these partnerships have usually been for a limited period of time. An exception to this is the technical partnership between Shell and Italian automotive giant Ferrari. This partnership is one of the most successful collaborations in the history of motorsport. According to Tripathy, the key takeaway from this partnership can be explained as the ‘6Ps’ of sports marketing.
Positioning Fit: Tripathy points out that the key to success in sports marketing is how both brands are able to complement each other as sharing equity is important. For Ferrari and Shell, the common ground was also the passion for performance, being premium, no compromise in quality, sustaining excellence and pushing the limits. Ferrari also gets the R&D support from Shell, the best support in terms of technology and also the global reach of Shell, which is present in over 150 countries.
Partnership: The partnership between Shell and Ferrari dates back to 1950 and involves over 500 races in on-track collaboration. In fact, Shell has a dedicated team focused on building this partnership. Shell also has a concept of track to road, wherein the developments and learnings from the race track are taken and transferred directly to products for customer’s car. Tripathy adds, “The Shell brand with the racing horse is a very good combination.”
Planning: Planning for any Formula One event starts about 18-24 months before the main event. Shell also uses this time to build a relationship with its core client base of retailers and distributors. Tripathi calls planning the “make or break of how successfully you will be able to execute an event”.
Participate (Pre & Post event): The pre-activation starts about 6-9 months before the event and goes on till D-Day with a host of activities, including road shows, simulator rides, and Shell customers even get an opportunity to engage with the Ferrari drivers. For Shell, D-Day presents an opportunity to showcase its visibility on the scene in a variety of ways. Key clients get the opportunity to visit Shell Track lab located at the Ferrari paddock, where scientists run constant tests on the fuel and oil used during the F1 race. Post event, the focus shifts to the digital platform to continue the engagement with the target consumer. Tripathy also adds that for every dollar spent on the partnership, three dollars need to be spent on activation.
Presence Multiplier: “One hit to be multiplied to 100”, that’s the target that Shell looks at by engaging with bloggers, utilising various social media tools and ensuring interconnectivity through various touch points.
Performance Review: For Shell, this association has created intangible benefits and helped the lubricant major build relations with its OEM partners. In fact, markets like Brazil saw a significant increase in retail business sales post a Formula One race.
Mansi Tripathy was speaking on the topic ‘Oil’s Well: Marketing for the fast track’ at the Mumbai leg of the Pitch CMO Summit 2013, held on March 6, 2013. The session was chaired by Sandeep Sharma, President, RK Swamy Media Group.
The Summit was presented by Colors, in association with MEC.