Former Formula One world champion, Mika Hakkinen was in India last week for an event organised by Diageo. Through this event, Diageo’s Johnnie Walker and Hakkinen are getting more people to ‘#JoinThePact’, which discourages drinking and driving.
It’s almost 16 years since Mika Hakkinen ended his career as a F1 driver, but ‘Brand Hakkinen’ is still going. He remains the face of several brands, the latest of which being Unibet, a deal he secured earlier this year. Interestingly, among his peers, it's only David Coulthard who remains active on the brand front. The duo were team mates at Mclaren Mercedes between 1996 and 2001.
And for those F1 drivers and athletes that have a shorter ‘shelf life’, looking to be active on the business front, Hakkinen has a piece of advice: ‘Be connected’.
He explains, “You need to be quite active and involved with the right companies. You have to be active to be able to continue business. I don’t think this ‘Brand Hakkinen’ will go on forever. Maybe it continues for another five years unless I’ve really really stuck with the media and kept stories interesting. You never know what life brings the next day. You just have to be connected. ”
He adds, “There are interesting things happening all the time around us and if you have a good team to pick up those, it keeps your brand alive.
But, like all ambassadors, he has the warning that one must not associate with brands for the heck of it and there should be a connect.
“You have to be picky. There are many companies out there who would want to partner you, but you have to pick the ones that you understand. There are a few categories that I wouldn’t want to partner at all. The ones that I would like to partner with would be car manufacturers. There is an automatic connect for me to be involved. Then come brands for watches and glasses. Companies like Diageo that have great messages like ‘Don’t drink and drive’ are great too. The right message is of great importance. When Johnnie Walker came to me and asked me to be part of this campaign with this message, it was very clear to me that this is going to be success,” he says.
On the subject, he adds, “My goal and aim is to always have the right message. For me to just stand for a brand, I don’t think it is of any value. People are interested about people. When you are looking at brands (pointing at the name at his helmet), this is just a name. People need emotions. How you can influence is that is having the right people telling the stories. Not just any stories, they need to have the right message.”
The two-time world champion claims that the posts on social media are made personally. He got down to using Twitter in April 2016 and has got 21,600 followers. His official Facebook page has 31,419 followers.
Labelling social media as ‘amazing’ he says it’s important for people to be disciplined and not get carried away. “I find it amazing. You have so many people interacting with you. You need to be disciplined and at the same time deliver fans the content that has the right message for them to learn and develop. I don’t comment on social media unless there’s a motivating factor. I don’t just tweet for the heck of it. There has to be proper content.”
Indian Grand Prix
In the early part of this millennium, many believed that Formula 1 would be the ‘next big’ sport in India.
But as time progressed, it’s been quite the opposite. A F1 team (Sahara Force India), two F1 drivers (Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok) and three races hosted in the country hasn’t helped either.
But, Hakkinen believes there’s a great appetite for the sport in the country, and the Indian Grand Prix must return soon. He says, “It’s such a fantastic country, with lots of fans of the sport. A lot of the fans like motor racing. I don’t know exactly why it hasn’t taken off yet. But India needs good motor racing schools, good teachers and kids at the age of six, wanting to be in that sport.”
He surmises, “Why F1 isn’t in India, I’m sure there’s some political reason.”