Shell Belgian Grand Prix

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Shell has been involved in Formula One since the very first world championship race in 1950, with the famous Shell logo – the Pecten – being the backdrop for some of the most memorable moments in the long history of the sport.

In the modern era, Shell has used circuit advertising to build awareness of its sub brands – Shell V-Power and Shell Helix – reinforcing the company’s longstanding sponsorship and technical partnership with Ferrari. However, as TV viewing figures decreased and advertising clutter increased, Shell recognised the need to go beyond circuit advertising and create a stronger communication platform to engage with Formula 1 fans and other important stakeholders.

The result was the Formula One Shell Belgian Grand Prix, a title sponsorship of one of the world’s most iconic motor races, taking place at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the Belgian Ardennes countryside. The negotiated sponsorship deal included an extensive activation rights package, enabling Shell to leverage the event broadly across many business areas and marketing channels.

Objectives

  • Increase preference for Shell amongst Formula One followers
  • Create stronger relationships with  B2B customers and key stakeholders
  • Increase positive media coverage for Shell
  • Build a strong social media following and engagement
  • Increase employee pride and motivation
  • Provide a platform to support key Shell business initiatives

Execution

  • Global incentive programme for frontline Shell Retail staff
  • Shell VIP hospitality for over 1000 people
  • Behind the scenes access for Shell guests
  • Creation and distribution of exclusive content
  • Discounted tickets for Shell employees
  • Dedicated social media content
  • Shell interactive fan zone
  • Integration of cross-business marketing activities
  • Significant brand exposure

Shell celebrated its long history in the sport with a special screening of the original Shell made film of the 1955 Belgian Grand Prix. The world’s media, along with F1 Drivers past and present, dressed up for the occasion.

Key Success Factors

  • Gaining buy in across the company, including at senior leadership level, enables the broad leverage of the sponsorship, supporting numerous key business objectives and utilising existing marketing budgets.
  • Recognise that the sponsorship itself, just provides the opportunity. It is the leveraging that brings the benefits!
  • Committing to a long term deal has many advantages, including gaining great support from the race promoter, building the activation scope each year, greater affinity with the fans and helping the business units plan their marketing activities and budgets.
  • Keep the sponsorship fresh and exciting through the introduction of new creative ideas each year, actively encouraging input from across the business.
  • Renegotiate the rights throughout the term of the sponsorship, including giving up rights that are not required.
  • Authenticity is vital. There should be a natural fit between the sponsor brand, the property and the fans. Shell’s activation embraced its rich motorsport heritage along with its modern day technological involvement in F1.