How Aston Martin’s F1 team drives awareness for its carmaker parent brand

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The British Grand Prix this weekend will see hundreds of thousands of spectators flock to the English village of Silverstone, home to one of the most hallowed circuits in motorsports.

It’s also a chance for U.K. automaker Aston Martin Lagonda to turn the attention given to its Formula 1 team into consumer goodwill and, hopefully, purchase consideration. The sport has found a new fanbase in recent years, in part due to the popularity of Netflix’s Drive To Survive. That’s drawn new sponsors to F1, but it’s also given marques such as Aston Martin an opportunity to engage with a broader crowd than their traditional target audience.

“From the road car business point of view of Aston Martin, [there is a] very niche target audience. The opportunity of Aston Martin Formula 1 is to really use that amazing brand equity to grow the fan base globally,” Rob Bloom, chief marketing officer of Aston Martin Aramco told Digiday.

Bloom’s job is to exploit that opportunity without compromising Aston Martin’s 111-year old reputation for luxury and exclusivity.

“The challenge is to maintain the ultra luxury brand status of Aston Martin, [while] going about that fan engagement strategy,” he said. “It’s a really interesting paradox that just helps us retain our brand positioning, but opens up the team to invite in the global fanbase.”

Though Aston Martin’s motorsports (and those of its supercar peers, such as Ferrari and Maserati) connections run deep, its link to modern F1 is recent, with the marque rebooting its team in 2021 after decades away from the Championship. F1 is a “tried and tested platform for a number of manufacturers,” said Alex Charkham, chief strategy officer at sports and entertainment agency Fuse, and Aston Martin’s re-entry is a “significant marketing exercise” for the brand.

As such, it’s bringing new marketing tools to the grid, leveraging an exclusive partnership with TikTok to take motorsports fans behind the garage doors. Aston Martin’s F1 presence on the platform boasts over 2 million followers, while the automaker’s official profile carries 626,000. That serves the sponsors that keep the team running, but also helps fuel a growing fanbase in key luxury markets such as the U.S. and China.

“From an Aston Martin perspective, China is a key market and it’s brilliant for us to be out there,” said Bloom.

Though every race day is an opportunity to boost its brand awareness and tap into the regional luxury car market, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone grants Aston Martin a home field advantage.

“There’s a huge opportunity that is presented for any brand that’s at Silverstone and that’s particularly strong if you are a British brand,” said Ryan Brambles, communications director at specialist sports agency Right Formula.

“Silverstone is our home,” Bloom wrote in a follow-up email. “It’s an opportunity to celebrate the iconic British status of Aston Martin, deliver significant activation programs for our commercial partners, and engage the local community.”

TikTok and Instagram Reels that are key to pressing that advantage. Alongside Aston Martin’s owned channels on Facebook, Instagram, X and YouTube, TikTok is an important channel for Aston Martin’s new brand campaign, “This is us,” which features English soccer player Leah Williamson.

TikTok is the F1 team’s “Official Creator Partner,” granting it access to in-house creative capabilities and creator relationships held by the platform. The two in-house brand teams “work very closely across all storytelling to ensure a coordinated and streamlined approach, and importantly to ensure we align on brand positioning and values,” said Bloom.

Though both the Formula One team and Aston Martin feature the team’s drivers prominently on their respective profiles, the team’s output looks a lot more like that produced by the platform’s native creators and influencers. “You’ll naturally see some adjacency across our various channels, but equally there are a breadth of unique stories and content that we create, which really speaks to the differences in target audience,” he added.

On race days, the brand’s marketers can step back and “let the Formula One team do the marketing for them,” said Charkham.

“At almost every single race that we go to, we’re inviting local creators in to co-create our story, and we’ve also recruited brilliant people who are specialists on that platform,” added Bloom. Though much of its content is produced in-house — featuring pit crew alongside the drivers — it’s to be boosted with paid social budget, though Bloom declined to share details of the team’s spending plans.

Growing the team and the brand’s shared fanbase meant making Aston Martin the most “inclusive, exclusive brand in world sport,” explained Bloom. That might be a “paradox,” but it’s a puzzle luxury brands across other sectors have to tackle perennially, to ensure they’re not condemned as yesterday’s class signifiers.

The company’s products aren’t what most people would term accessible — prices for new models on AutoTrader begin at $117,000 — but given the broader demographic of racing fans brought to Formula One recently, it’s no surprise Aston Martin sees a chance to broaden its appeal beyond James Bond and the “gentlemen driver,” as Brambles puts it.

“Formula One has been a great vehicle for them to do that,” he added.

Bloom suggested that the brand’s short-form video focus can draw back the curtain just enough to maintain its luxury standing. “Everything that we do, has a layer of quality that is befitting of the Aston Martin brand. But quality when it comes to creating content on TikTok just means that it’s creative. It’s disruptive, it’s innovative. It’s got good production standards. That’s the Aston Martin factor.”

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