Viral marketing: making inroads into F1?

By Onlineability,

Over the last couple of weeks Formula One teams have been launching their cars for 2010. And, in an industry that hasn’t been noted for its enthusiastic take-up of new media, there have been some fascinating developments.

Two of the biggest, McLaren and Ferrari, held old-style press launches with accredited media assembling at a venue – the former at a sponsor’s headquarters in the UK, the latter in its base in Italy. The whole thing was streamed live over the internet for fans to see which was progress of a sort. But, frankly, it did remind us a bit of those newspapers that, in the earliest days of the web, scanned in their pages and made them available wholesale as giant images.

A third, new entrant Virgin F1, tried and failed to hold what it called a digital launch to celebrate its digital car. That meant designed entirely by computer rather than employing the more traditional (and expensive) method of using a wind tunnel. But a technical hitch meant no pictures appeared on the computer screens of expectant fans, journalists or (doubtless) competitors.

Which brings us to Williams F1. The Oxfordshire-based team is F1 aristocracy in that it has won numerous championships and enjoyed the services of drivers such as Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Alain Prost. But in the past few years it has been gravely disadvantaged financially – the price of retaining its independent status in the face of a manufacturer-dominated sport.

Williams chose to unveil its new car through what looks very much like a viral marketing campaign featuring a “spy video” promoted on YouTube. On our motor racing site Brits on Pole we’ve taken a look at the nuts and bolts of the campaign and tried to assess how well it worked. Read the article below:

F1: Did Williams’ “viral car launch” pay off or backfire?

Has the Williams F1 team just staged the first-ever viral launch of an F1 car? And, perhaps more importantly, did it work?

The team, famous for concentrating its resources squarely in engineering and finding innovative solutions to fill in the areas around the edges, was one of several that opted to avoid a high-profile car launch this year, after plans for a joint event between the teams fell through.

Some teams opted to launch their cars online – including an unsuccessful event by Virgin F1 that was scuppered by technical problems – and some simply opted to turn up for the first or second scheduled test.

McLaren and Ferrari staged conventional press launches but added a new twist by making the proceedings available for fans to watch live via streaming video. Other teams, including Sauber and Renault, chose to unveil their machines during the first test session of the year at Valencia.

The top line from Williams was that it too would be taking that approach. But then a piece appeared in Autosport directly after the car’s pre-test shakedown at Silverstone on Thursday January 28 entitled “Exclusive: First image of new Williams.” Read the rest of the article here…

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