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McLaren F1 gets down to business with new approach

Interesting notes from McLaren in the last couple of days as the restructuring of the company and its approach to business continues, following the...

McLaren F1 gets down to business with new approach
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Interesting notes from McLaren in the last couple of days as the restructuring of the company and its approach to business continues, following the forced departure of Ron Dennis a year ago.

Yesterday they announced a partnership with CNBC, which has done the rounds of a few F1 teams before, but perhaps more interestingly they also announced an "advisory board", which comprises 12 big names from the world of business.

All are male, which is unusual in an age of increasing diversity.

It's an approach that Executive Director Zak Brown took at his previous companies, JMI and CSM, which brings in expertise and more importantly some chunky contacts books, to the McLaren sphere of influence.

After three seasons of dismal performance on track, selling sponsorship for McLaren is probably quite a challenge, although there have been suggestions that the CNBC deal is one of few that McLaren has lined up ahead of the new F1 season starting in March.

No-one in the F1 business community is speaking about any of them being big deals, however.

The climate is interesting; on the one hand the arrival of Liberty Media as owners of F1 has created new opportunities for brands to use F1 to reach a huge audience both on traditional media, like TV and print as well as online and social media. The latter side is set to grow again in 2018. On the other hand, the TV audience is trading off reach in key markets with the need to take money from Pay TV networks.

There are new brands looking closely at F1 at present, but there was a reluctance to commit from some in 2017 as they work out what the short and medium term potential is under Liberty Media. Formula E has also been attracting sponsors which might previously have gone with F1 if the offer of a lower cost primarily business to business platform, emphasising sustainability works for their brand.

The series is less attractive to brands that want to promote consumer products to mass audiences, where F1 still scores highly.

McLaren's advisory board is a new approach, that has not been tried before to the best of my knowledge and the powerful figures from a wide variety of business sectors around the table meeting twice a year will not only help open doors for the commercial team, but will also steer the company's approach to how it conducts its business.

With two main shareholders in the Bahraini Mumtalakat group and also Mansour Ojjeh, pushing hard to grow the McLaren business in a new way, the idea of opening out the funnel of influence and thinking should work and stop them becoming too tunnel vision going forward.

It will be interesting to see whether the approach catches on with other F1 teams.

The 12 advisory board names are:

Jaime Bergel, Chairman, Bacardi-Martini; Lord Sebastian Coe, President, IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations); Michel Combes, President of Sprint (telecoms); Lee Daley, Former CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi; Carl-Peter Forster, Former CEO, Tata Motors (Jaguar and Land Rover); Jean-Marc Huet, Non-exec director, Heineken and Canada Goose; Blake Irving, Board Director & former CEO, GoDaddy; Rob Kauffman, Chairman, NASCAR Race Team Alliance; Rob Malcolm, Former President, Global Marketing, Sales and Innovation, Diageo; Richard Solomons, Former CEO, InterContinental Hotels Group plc; Greg Spierke, Board member – MGM Resorts International; Keith Weed, Chief Marketing Officer, Unilever PLC

All photos: LAT Images

What do you think of this new development on the business side of F1? Leave your comment in the section below
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