The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series starts off today in St. Petersburg, Florida, with a sense of excitement and anticipation for not only IndyCar itself with the introduction of its new race car, but also the fans, drivers, owners, and commercial partners.
New Car, New Owners, Increased Digital Platform Engagement
Topping the list is introduction of the all new visually appealing and sleek race car, replacing the previous car that was full of unwieldy and unsightly aerodynamic bits and pieces. The corresponding loss of down force is intended to reduce car generated turbulence, therefore making the racing better by allowing the cars to race closer together. And, with all teams and drivers starting from scratch with the new car, the drivers’ skill sets will be on full display, rather than relying on down force to stick the car to the track.
An additional positive sign for IndyCar is the inclusion this year of four new, and one returning, owner/team combinations making a committed entry to the series, along with a host of diverse rookie drivers from North American and around the world that is supplying a good degree of diversity to the grid.
The series comes off another year of strong digital engagement, and has accumulated a global fan base of 57 million, of which 35% reside in the coveted 18-34 year old range. Social media reach and engagement has risen considerably, and points to a continued increase.
Advance Of Consumer and Automotive Technology
Enhancing the fan experience with new and future forms of technology (i.e., 5G), and keeping up to date on applicable areas of new automotive technology (i.e., ADAS and V2V communication areas), will be keeping IndyCar relevant to multiple consumer and corporate segments going forward.
Commercial Partner Opportunities
All the above combine to increase commercial and technical opportunities within the series. Two companies in which Connexions Global Marketing introduced to IndyCar via team partnerships, are cases in point:
Copper Moon Coffee is an Indiana regional player in the retail and food service coffee market. By becoming the “Official Coffee” of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, the brand is able to utilize the marketing rights offered by the team to promote its brand throughout the North American market, and engage and influence customers through B2B programs. Additionally it had designed and will commercialize a SPM custom blended coffee to be provided to its existing customer base and in the team’s track level corporate hospitality facility, reaching and refreshing an existing and new set of corporate, retail, and consumer customer.
Omologato Watches is a UK based timepiece company whose target market is the “Motorsport Inspired” consumer. It is using its “Official Timepiece” of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports partnership, and corresponding team marketing rights, as the linchpin in launching its brand in the North American market though heavy activation with the team and drivers.
DXC Technology, a company that came into being in 2017 through a merger of two separately named companies, has made a major partnership commitment this year with Team Penske to better generate brand awareness to its C level customer base, as its executives see IndyCar as a growing B2B and technology focused platform. Penske will also use DXC technology to assist in engineering greater speed out of the cars on track.
The first race of the season hasn’t even run, but many of the signs point towards the series being poised to enlarge its reach and appeal to new fans and commercial partners not only in North America, but the world as well. I’m eagerly looking forward to see how it progresses!