Campaign India Team
Nov 08, 2017

AdAsia 2017: Where Mark Gallagher meets David Coulthard

The post lunch session between the F1 legend and the motor racing boss was a top draw on day one of the Ad Asia 2017 festival

AdAsia 2017: Where Mark Gallagher meets David Coulthard
Post lunch sessions at every seminar are a tough challenge. But that's where AdAsia 2017 had an ace up its sleeve. Grand Prix Motor Racing boss Mark Gallagher and thirteen time winner of the F1 Grand Prix, David Coulthard had a plan.
In a freewheeling chat that was a stand-up interview (not the usual sit-down) Coulthard and Gallagher spoke on several points from the right brand fit, to technology and the power of teamwork.
Coulthard who retired from Motor racing about nine years back was quite tall for a racing driver. "Packaging a tall driver is a designers nightmare in F1," he started. 
Gallagher kicked off the proceedings saying how brands like Ferrari never did corporate branding campaigns but had associated with F1 for decades as one of their leading sponsorship activities. "Ferrari is quite an amazing brand. It's 70 years old and has been associated for 68 consecutive years with F1," he said.
For Coulthard, who was associated with three F1 teams in his career, Gallagher tossed a question. Red Bull was clearly a high energy company. His other team McLaren Mercedes paid a lot of attention to detail while Williams had a different brand persona than the other two. How did Coulthard blend in with three sponsors with a different set of values invested in F1 teams?
Coulthard's response: "All were British teams with a British work ethic. Their DNA was engineering and the principles behind putting the brand into the race-track was very much the same."
The other point of discussion was on what the advertising business could learn from F1. Technology and data were the lifeblood for the teams to stay ahead in the sport.
In the media landscape that's about connecting with consumers, there could be a lot of lessons from F1 that's been tracking real time data system for 25 years, said Gallagher.
In response to an audience query on what was the last thing on his mind after completing a race, Coulthard said his thoughts were to celebrate every success with his team. "You cannot win without a great team of people around you. Technology delivered by humans will never go out of fashion. The emotion of winning a sporting event and sharing it with humans will still be there in the virtual or real world," he said. 
Gallagher brought the focus on how the team was critical in cutting down the time taken to change tyres during a race. For the longest time ever the record was held by team Ferrari to change tyres in 3 seconds. Then, Red Bull got that down to two seconds. Now Williams has shattered even that seemingly unbreakable record and done it in 1.9 seconds.  
"When 20 people perform a total of 36 tasks in 2 seconds, they are delivering great customer service, exceeding expectations. The driver is the customer to the team," said Coulthard. However, he adds that when they perform so well and give the driver a time advantage, they are handing over responsibilty. "This puts more responsibility on the driver to deliver better," he said. 
He said that the tech data teamwork was constantly improving performance timings both by the driver and the teams.
Talking about associating brands with F1 drivers, Gallagher brought home the point that while F1 drivers would be comfortable with racing, how do we get them in a golf commercial.
"Our mental limit is the only barrier. Brands are comfortable when there is a natural association," was Coulthard's response who took part in a commercial where he catches a golf ball that's hit by a professional golfer in the backseat of his car. He got it right the second time. When the film unit wanted to get more footage and suggested another try, the ball smashed the car's windscreen.  
Gallagher referred to a spectacular burn by a F1 racing car on the helipad on the rooftop of the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. "Did you ever feel that you would take off like a plane," he asked Coulthard who had done that feat. "When you know your team's ability, why would things go wrong," was Coulthard's answer.
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