Exclusive Q&A with LG's Andrew Barrett 14 Aug 2009
In terms of F1 sponsorship, LG is the new kid on the block. Just seven months ago, the electronics giant became A Global Partner of Formula 1 and A Technology Partner of Formula 1. As part of this top level association LG acquired exclusive designations and marketing rights as the official Consumer Electronics, Mobile Phone and Data Processor of Formula 1. The aim was to broaden brand awareness of the company - and according to Andrew Barrett, LGs Vice President of Marketing and Global Sponsorship, the deal has more than delivered
Q: How would you reflect on your first season of Formula One sponsorship?
Andrew Barrett: Weve been active now for seven months. In that time we have developed over 1000 different promotional programmes, executed in 45 countries around the world - it has been a very fast start. We have seen great enthusiasm in our markets to get involved with Formula One programmes. Some say weve done more in the first six months than many others have done in six years.
Q: Why did you choose Formula One racing?
AB: First of all, the LG brand wants to build credentials around the globe and Formula One reaches out as one of the largest sporting properties in the world. That helps us with building brand awareness. More importantly, we are trying to build a very premium image, which F1 is clearly seen as having. Stylish, technologically advanced products - thats what our brand is all about. And F1 is certainly one of the worlds few sporting franchises that is seen as technologically innovative, and also highly premium and stylish - its a great fit for our brand development.
Q: How long had you been considering F1?
AB: We really started to get serious about a year ago when we began to look into a significant involvement with the sport. It took about six months to put together our programme, which we announced at the end of November 2008.
Q: LG took a different route to most partners and sponsors, teaming up with Formula One Management rather than a team. Why was that?
AB: A number of reasons. First of all, with our overall global sponsorship strategy we traditionally get involved with leagues. We are a sponsor of the ICC (International Cricket Council) - the entire cricket league as opposed to a specific tournament. We sponsor FIS LG World Cup snowboarding - again not an individual snowboarding event. And now we are doing this with F1.
This allows us to accomplish a few objectives. One, were able to associate ourselves with everybody, competitor or event, which allows us to reach the maximum audience possible. Secondly, it allows us to rapidly build brand awareness by being involved in a very clear way in every single Formula One broadcast. We get maximum brand exposure over every weekend, for every race, in every country, as opposed to having to rely on a particular teams performance, or a particular signage package we might do at a single race. We get exposure weekend after weekend after weekend, in country after country after country throughout the world. That is really important for us.
Q: LGs sponsorship portfolio also includes some national commitments like football teams in the United Kingdom and Brazil, and a hockey team in Canada. Formula One racing definitely stands out from these
AB: Our research told us that F1 was seen as a premium sport, a technologically advanced sport, a stylish sport, an innovative sport, a sophisticated sport. These are all attributes that we want to build behind the LG brand. We knew that the viewers of Formula One appreciate these attributes, and by LG getting involved it will help connect our products with these attributes. We knew that F1 would work well for our brand.
Q: LG are also involved with F1 ROCKS, the exclusive concert series at special race venues with top music acts like Beyonce and the Black Eyed Peas. What are the gains from this for LG?
AB: First of all, we are working to expand the reach of our F1 programme to a broader audience, which also includes a younger audience. Music is always much more important for 16 to 29 year-olds, where F1 is probably not so advanced today. With our commitment we expect to reach down into the youth market, which is very important to us, particularly to our mobile phone business.
Secondly, from a gender perspective, the programme allows us to broaden ourselves. Formula One is watched by men and women, with a little bit more towards the male audience. We see the music programme as a way to engage with the female audience more - and it sits in and around the sport, which is very helpful for our brand development.
Thirdly, it creates really rich and exciting promotional content for us. We can use content from the show in our promotion, our web sites, our advertising and our in-store displays around the world.
Finally, we have wanted to produce a music programme for some time and it is really nice that we can associate ourselves with one that is attached to something we care a lot about - Formula One.
Q: South Korea hopes to host a Grand Prix in the future. How important would a home race be for LG?
AB: Well, our sponsorship programme with F1 is on a global level, so obviously our focus is on global brand awareness. But yes, it would be nice to have one in Korea.
Q: As a newcomer to the Formula One paddock, what are your impressions on a personal level?
AB: Its a real mixture. Some things have been quite surprising to me, especially the size of the community that exists within the paddock. Its much broader than I expected. The other thing that has been very exciting is the opportunities that naturally present themselves every time I'm there. Yes, there is sport going on, but there is also a business-to-business convention that happens every weekend at an F1 race, in terms of the other business opportunities that one can source out and start to put together with the other parts of the paddock community. That wasnt the primary reason we got involved with F1, but it certainly is a benefit that over time we will start to take more and more opportunity from.
Q: So it sounds like LG is pleased with its Formula One commitment
AB: Being involved in F1 has done great things for the LG brand. After the first six months we conducted research around the world to track whether this programme was delivering on the objectives that we set out when we signed the agreement - and weve seen very positive progress. We are certainly enjoying the fruits of being involved with Formula One.