Netflix – The marketing platform that resurrected Formula 1

Netflix – The marketing platform that resurrected Formula 1

Picture the scene; just finished a long day of lectures and finally completed that assignment you’ve been working tirelessly on all week. You’ve got a cup of tea in hand and are ready to switch on the TV to watch the final episode of your favourite Netflix series that you’ve been totally consumed with for the past few weeks; life is bliss. Then it hits you; what am I going to watch when this series ends, I’m getting tired of watching the same sort of genres, it’s time to switch things up but I don’t know what other types of series would interest me. This is why I love Netflix, don’t get me wrong I love watching a series that I know I’ll be interested in, there’s nothing better than switching on an episode of Gavin and Stacey on a rainy day to lift the mood. However there’s something about becoming fascinated by a Netflix show you thought would never interest you that can’t be beaten.

It is widely known that Formula 1 is a predominately male sport, it involves expensive motorcars and high speed racing. Before its premiere to Netflix on 8th March 2019, if asked about Formula 1, the only piece of information I would have known is that Lewis Hamilton drives in a red suit. This is in fact incorrect as Lewis drives in a sparkling white one for Mercedes Benz, information I only found out from watching the Netflix series. I would never have stumbled across this Netflix series only that I began noticing how much my dad who was a big football and rugby fan, talked about it from the day he began watching it. I mean who could have pictured it; a young female driver of a 2008 Ford Fiesta, who doesn’t break the speed limit, stalls on average around 3 times a day, completely engrossed in a Netflix series all about high speed racing, cars reaching up to 200mph to determine over a number of races who is the F1 World Champion. But that’s the power of Netflix.

When searching up Formula 1 on google, the suggested drop down menu’s presented many negative connotations, one that struck me was: is Formula 1 a dying sport? Although it is unlikely that Formula 1 bosses have ever seen this question specifically, it is without doubt that they would have gathered information over the years about the public’s views on the sport and its popularity. After furthering my search, I came across many articles that suggested Formula 1’s success was behind them and that the sport had started to be considered ‘stupid’, other articles provided statistics showing the drop in its popularity over the years. Not only this but Formula 1 had received much backlash for its lack of diversity and how it was still very sexist in terms of being predominantly, if not an all male sport. Formula 1 had failed to move with the times and this had not went unmissed by the general public. It was clear to everyone that something needed to be done if Formula 1 wanted to continue its legacy.

Up until 2017 Formula 1 was limited to what they could broadcast across social media. This all changed when Liberty Media purchased the global motorsport business and gave drivers and their teams the freedom to post across mediums such as Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. To an extent this worked well, it gauged supporter’s attention and allowed for much needed interaction amongst supporters and drivers. However the real genius was in the creation of their Netflix documentary. Formula 1 could not have choose a better platform to market their competitive motorsport than the online streaming mastermind that is Netflix. Their careful decision making enabled them to reach an audience of 158.3 million Netflix subscribers all around the world. Drive to Survive performed particularly well in the United States where it had a higher demand than 96.1% of all Documentary titles as shown in the graph below.

Current Renault and previous Redbull driver, Daniel Ricciardo also noted the he has seen an increase in the amount of people recognising him in the United States and said that Drive to Survive put Formula 1 racing on the map. He said that before Drive to Survive “not really anyone would say hi to me – not in a bad way, but they wouldn’t recognise me from being an F1 driver. And now it’s all ‘we saw you on Netflix, it was great, Drive to Survive’.”

Data from Research Agency Digital-i found that in its first 28 days, the Netflix Documentary Drive to Survive had been streamed over 1 million times in households within the UK. This has been hugely successful for Liberty Media whose aim was to expand its audiences, particularly to younger demographics which has also proved successful as since 2017, 62% of Formula 1’s new followers have been under the age of 35. Netflix has proved to be one of the most pivotal factors in the boost in popularity of the Formula 1 motorsport.

Liberty Media also made strategic use of Digital Marketing to promote Formula 1 further. As I mentioned earlier through restrictions being lifted on the content that was allowed to be posted, social media has been hugely effective in keeping fans of the motorsport engaged and interested. Content posted on Instagram including Instagram lives being filmed as drivers prepare to race, Youtube videos being posted to their 4.58 million subscribers on a daily basis and Tik Tok videos showing highlights from the races using popular sounds on Tik Tok are a few of the effective marketing methods used by Formula 1 to promote their motorsport further. Even with the coronavirus pandemic, Formula 1 showed fans how they could adapt and continue to interact across the world through the creation of the Virtual Grand Prix Series which proved a standout. Its run was able to pull in 21.8 million views on digital platforms, as well as 695 million impressions across social.

It was no surprise that Formula 1 Netflix Documentary: Drive to Survive has been a hugely successful marketing strategy employed by Liberty Media. The Netflix Documentary highlighted a side to Motorsport racing that had never been seen before. The previous two seasons have shown a more human side to a largely mechanical sport. Viewers are exposed to the emotional side of the motorsport not just for the driver but for their families and all the team involved in the success of a driver. From turmoil to triumph, this Netflix Documentary uncovers a candid glimpse into the life of an F1 driver and shows much more than just the on-track action that fans are used to seeing. I’m already excited about season 3 even though a release date is yet to be confirmed, but as I said before, that’s the power of Netflix!

Aoife Teague is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram and Twitter

Should we be following example or using our own initiative throughout this pandemic?

Should we be following example or using our own initiative throughout this pandemic?

Who could have predicted this time last year that a year on we would be in the midst of trying to survive a global pandemic. Before this pandemic the last time I had bought a hand sanitiser was in August while trying to kit out my schoolbag with all of the ‘essentials’ some of which would remain   unopened and forgotten  in the  bottom of my school bag.

Had I been told 10 years ago that in 2020 I would be working from home and taking a step back from my busy lifestyle I would have been very content, that’s the lifestyle we all dream of having, right? What I would have failed to do is consider the terms and conditions that come with living this type of lifestyle: not being able to visit family and friends, only being allowed out to do exercise once per day, having no restaurants, cafes or pubs open to visit at the weekends and having to sanitise and wear a facemask in every place I visited, to name but a few.

Don’t have a leg to stand on

Working out what the rules and regulations are has been challenging at times throughout this pandemic, with constant changes and updates happening daily. For many, the easiest way to keep track of what they can or cannot do is to follow the examples of those setting these guidelines, or so you would have thought. In reality though, following the example of these professionals and leaders could leave you digging deep in your pockets if faced with a large fine for breaching government guidelines.

14th September seen the implementation of the rule of six come into place to prohibit large social gatherings.  This rule seemed to have went unheard by Jeremy Corbyn, former Labour leader, who attended a dinner with eight other individuals. Unlike certain coronavirus guidelines this was one of the clearer restrictions however Corbyn, a very influential, well known political leader appeared to have missed this.

Unfortunately it’s not even responsible for the general public to follow the example set by some Chief Medical Officers. Dr Catherine Calderwood, former Chief Medical Officer of Scotland, broke restrictions during lockdown to visit her second home in Fife. This could have been excused had she apologised and learned from her mistake, however she was caught a second time breaking these restrictions. She later resigned from her position as Chief Medical Officer. The actions taken by her to visit her second home were extremely contradictory of her plea to the public to stay at home. As the BBC put it Dr Calderwood herself ‘echoed the mantra…that by staying at home we would help to protect the NHS- and thus to save lives.’

Practice what you preach

Up until March of 2020, masks were only ever worn by the general public at Halloween, either by younger children going trick or treating or adults attending a fancy dress party. With the exception of some professions where masks were required to be worn in the workplace they were never something that was seen regularly in day to day life. Skip three months into the year 2020 and the wearing of a face mask is a feature of everyday life. That’s because it’s now the law and who better to remind people of this than the loud, opinionated, voice of ‘reason’ that is DJ and television presenter, Stephen Nolan.

Recently Nolan spent the afternoon at a local filling station, confronting customers who came out of the shop not wearing a facemask. One video taken by Nolan’s camera crew caused quite a stir. It appeared to show footage of a man who was physically uncomfortable by Nolan who walked hastily behind him asking the question ‘why did you not wear a facemask…?’

What Nolan failed to consider was that he himself has not always followed these rules and was caught a month previous posing for pictures with students in the Holylands without a face mask in sight. Yes, Nolan could defend himself and say that he was out in an open space where a facemask is not required, however he cannot deny that in the photograph he was not two meters away from the students who were almost joint at the hips beside him. In Stephen Nolan’s own words ‘If people break the law, they are criminalising themselves.’ Now I am not one to sit here and judge because I understand that there are moments when you forget about the wearing of face masks. After all it takes time to get used to change, and as the saying goes change does not happen overnight.

I am in no way trying to paint everyone with the same brush. There are many public figures that are trying to follow the guidelines and set a good example. Simply put, I believe it’s important to weigh up the decisions you make and not be influenced by public figures who appear to have flouted the guidelines provided.

Aoife Teague is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: @aoifeteague and Twitter: @aoifeteague