McLarens Growing Popularity = Increased Future Sponsorship
McLaren continues to dominate in team social media presence, how will that impact sponsorship and will other teams start to follow?
Social Media Engagement across Formula 1 has increased 33% YoY. While those under 25 years of age only make up 14% of Formula 1 viewers, 77% of the interest growth in the past year has come from those in the under 35 bracket. As that growth continues with more young adults continuing to follow the sport, we'll likely see an increased interest from Sponsors in partnering with various teams.
A recent global study conducted by Motorsport Network highlighted that McLaren was the #1 team for 40% of fans in the 16-24 age group and 29.5% from overall viewers. This was a huge jump from the 17% favoritism from fans they saw back in 2017. What has changed?
McLaren has mastered the art of engaging with their audience. McLaren's YouTube views specifically have racked up millions, having over 700K followers watching their popular "Unboxed" series - a summary of their grand prix weekends. On top of that, the McLaren challenges between teammates has kept followers engaged during the week outside of the races.
The McLaren challenges likely gained a portion of their popularity from the former duo "Carlando" - Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris who held a strong relationship through the 2 years as teammates for McLaren before Sainz made the move in the 2021 season to Ferrari. Now with Daniel Ricciardo on board, the 4th most liked Formula 1 driver and Lando Norris as the 2nd most favorited, the interest in these challenges continues.
While McLaren is not the only team seen participating in these series of challenges, Ferrari having a large following as well along with Williams and Red Bull having some of their own, those from McLaren continue to be the most consistent and entertaining of them all.
Throughout the past decade and even more recently through the pandemic, social media presence has never been more important for a brand. Coupled with consumers wanting to choose brands they can connect with, having ones brand name seen tied to Motorsport may be an enticing road that some will want to follow.
While there has been concern of a decreased interest in sponsorship for Formula 1 due to the strength of online advertisement, being a presence for the team on and off the track will still garner views and potential conversions for the brand. As Drive To Survive has pushed North American interest in the sport, if any new sponsors were to come into the field we can expect those to likely come from American based brands looking for new ways to engage with their audience or target new consumers.
Source: Pro Sports Media
Above you'll see Walmart has been a key American sponsor for Red Bull Racing. Cash App recently joined RBR's list of sponsorships this year and has since been highlighted on the cars this season. With Max Verstappen voted the most liked driver this year and seeing a high favoritism from American fans, it will be interesting to see whether American brands support the growing fanbase of McLaren or the higher ranked team of Red Bull.
While social media presence isn't the key factor in whether a brand decides to get into the ring of Formula 1 sponsors, the growing impact of these platforms is something to consider. The digital age of today has a momentous impact on how we perceive brands, people, and whether or not we align ourselves with them. The coming season will likely bring a new era of long term sponsorships from brands and an increased brand presence in team challenges.