Technology companies that are B2C as well as B2B marketers often face a challenge in activating sponsorships. Budgets must be spread across highly targeted communications and hospitality offerings for a select few corporate customers and prospects in addition to mass promotional efforts to reach consumer product end-users.
Computer-maker Lenovo is in that camp, having paid the steep price of admission to become an official Formula 1 partner for both its main brand and its Motorola mobile device unit.
Over the weekend, the company launched a global marketing blitz behind the development of what it calls “the world’s first kiss-activated trophy.” The memento’s debut at the F1 Lenovo Japanese Grand Prix generated considerable social and traditional media buzz when Dutch driver and race winner Max Verstappen followed the “Kiss Me” instructions on the trophy and it immediately lit up in the colors of his national flag.
Fun stuff that achieved Lenovo’s stated goal of elevating the podium experience and turning the tradition of kissing the trophy into something more engaging for both drivers and fans. It got the racing audience and others talking about the brand in the moment. Lenovo has successfully used a fundamental element of sponsorship: the ability to have a large audience “look over here” at your company.
Its challenge, as with all top-of-funnel marketing, will be to translate that attention into something longer-lasting that can move the needle in terms of image, consideration and ultimately purchase among its B2C and B2B target markets.
There are plenty of other elements of the F1 partnership that are primed to do that. As Lenovo states in a case study regarding the partnership: “One of the major IT challenges Formula 1 faces is the sheer volume of data generated by the organization. Not only does Formula 1 have all the data concerns of a globe-spanning company and sports organization, but each individual car is also generating millions of points of data across 22 Grands Prix around the world. Formula 1 acquires lots of data from the cars, like the G-forces drivers hit rounding a corner, the steering angle, the brake, how much the driver is pushing the throttle and all the audio and video from the cameras and microphones.
“Lenovo tech infrastructure helps put that data in the hands of the drivers and their teams instantly, through trackside devices (including laptops, workstations, tablets and Motorola mobile phones) and supports data collection with its servers. The fans themselves are also able to directly benefit from that track-generated data, as Lenovo technology connects the track to the Media & Technology Centre that displays the data in real-time as on-screen graphics for the fans watching the race.”
It will be very interesting to see how Lenovo capitalizes on the awareness it generates from the captivating technology-embedded trophy to tell the more relevant story of how its products support F1, teams and fans.