"F1 takes the environmental challenge extremely seriously": Mark Gallagher

When everyone is busy debating about the new Formula 1 logo, Campaign India takes a look at the future of the sport.

Nov 27, 2017 09:22:00 AM | Article | Prasad Sangameshwaran Share - Share to Facebook

At the sidelines of the AdAsia2017 Summit in Bali, Campaign India caught up with F1 veterans Mark Gallagher and David Coulthard. Our single question to them was about the environmental concerns about the sport and whether this issue could put off millennials. Gallagher and Coulthard were quick to defend the sport. Excerpts:
Gallagher: There is a misguided view that F1 is about gas-guzzling engines burning fossil fuel and destroying the environment. Formula 1 engines today are hybrid (petrol-electric) and they are the most efficient petrol engines in the world with 50 per cent thermal efficiency, which will sort of give an idea of how efficient they are. The cars that we drive are at about 30-33 per cent thermal efficiency. Basically 65 percent of the fuel you put in your car does nothing. It just burns, creates heat, noise and so on. We have an amazing case study in F1 cars.
If millennials talk to us about F1 damaging the environment, we actually point out that F1 today shows how you can take a given amount of energy and extract more performance from that in an efficient way. That’s the first thing.
The second thing is that we take fewer people to races today than we did 20 years ago, which obviously reduces our carbon footprint. The reason is that data engineers do not even need to be at the racetrack. We get the data in the factory. 
I don’t want to labour this point too long, but something might surprise you if you take the example of the McLaren Formula 1 team. They employ 3,600 people in their facilities in the UK and their factory was the first carbon neutral factory in the whole of the UK. All of the cooling in the factory is built from a man-made lake. There are lots of such examples from across the sport.
Formula 1 takes the environmental challenge extremely seriously. We are a global sport. Protecting the planet is extremely important to us. 
There was an emission survey done in Europe comparing F1 to other sports. The Tour de France cycle race generates more carbon emissions than F1 does in a season, because more than one million French go driving their cars to see the cycle race. When you start to look at the reality of sports and carbon emissions in the planet, the details are very interesting. At F1 we strongly believe that by embracing technology, we can save the planet by making better use of our resources. 
Would David (Coulthard) want to add to it?
Mark Gallagher: There is nothing that David would want to add to it. (Laughs.) I’m just joking.
David Coulthard: The younger generation is today all about experiences. We hear a lot about lesser and lesser younger people passing the driving test, because they feel they can either Uber or Go-Jek (an Indonesian platform) to their destination. The reality with youngsters is that they see the world as a much smaller place than I did initially. Just one trans-Atlantic flight creates more emissions than an entire season of Grand Prix racing. 
But can we do more as the racing fraternity to cut down emissions? Of course, we can do more. 
What is changing with respect to the marketing support for sports?
Gallagher: What we are seeing from a European perspective is that the media landscape is changing. Families are no longer watching television anymore. Children of various age groups are consuming media through mobiles, laptops, tablets. In a sport like Formula 1 our audience is changing the way they consume what we do. For advertisers, the challenge is that the traditional ways of reaching people are no longer working. So you have to be much more focused on engaging audiences in a very direct way. This is why social media has become all empowering in recent years.
In F1, people like David are making content that goes viral. There is no question that there is going to be a sea-change in media and the way it’s consumed, the way sport is viewed. We are already seeing in F1, the beginning of the arrival of Netflix and Amazon Prime. The business model where you have to pay to access sport on television is going to break. 
It’s not that the audience is disappearing. It’s just shifting to how they want to consume content. 
People are not prepared to pay big monthly subscription fees. People want to pay only for what they want to see and when they want to see. If you go on vacation, you do not want to be geo-blocked from watching your content in another country. Netflix assures me that I am not geo-blocked here in Indonesia, but if I wanted to watch BBC or Sky Sports here, I would probably get geo-blocked. The world is going mobile. Broadcasters have to become user-friendly. 
As a result advertisers and sponsors will have to adapt to that incredibly fast. You will be able to target your audience in a very measurable way. Gone are the days when you put up an ad and hoped that it reached the right audience. 
Coulthard: From my experience of working with brands, they are looking for experience marketing and engage first hand with the customer. The days of putting a logo on the car and hoping to be seen are long gone. There has to be an engagement. We are constantly monitoring opportunities.


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