Home Editorial Dear F1…please stop

Dear F1…please stop

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For many, stating your New Year’s resolution is a milestone and there are many who even have a New Year’s wish. Something they hope will happen in the coming twelve months. I have one of those and I don’t think it’s asking too much.

You see, you don’t have to be an old curmudgeon to find some of the changes to Formula 1 concerning. Sure, new owners means a new logo, new approach to the series and room for a few errors as they find their sea legs and get on top of what they’ve purchased.

As with many companies, the strategy for social (digital) media befuddles me. For better or worse, the Twitter, Facebook, Instagram accounts represent the voice of a brand and relinquishing that to a $30k/year 20-something is beyond concerning and in some cases, catastrophic.

The old notion, “it’s a young industry so we need to find some young, hip people to handle Twitter” is just lazy. It doesn’t matter if it is print or Facebook, the brand’s voice is not a young industry best managed by young people for a stipend. It is critical business and deserves the focus and continuity the brand demands.

One of the big changes for F1.com’s new ownership is the immediate flood of Twitter posts dripping with emoji’s. The voice, whether reality or not, seems to be that of a young, hip person trying very hard to flood a timeline with banal posts, clips and pictures seeking some sort of engagement and a click by viewers. It’s sophomoric and patronizing and adds very little to the conversation or enjoyment of the sport. It looks junior league and betrays the brands global position and voice.

From the smoldering ruins of WWII came a desire to see who could pick up the mantel of Grand Prix racing and go the fastest in a post-war world on tracks that had recently played host to advancing armies. Ferrari was born, Mercedes—with tail between its legs—re-focused on simply becoming a manufacturer of road cars for the world and not just the German military machine. Privateers begged, borrowed and stole to get a chassis and engine to go racing. Teams were born and legends were made.

From the 1960’s to the 1990’s, Jim Clark, Ricardo Rodriguez, John Taylor, Lorenzo Bandini, Jo Schlesser, Gerhard Mitter, Piers Courage, Jochen Rindt, Roger Williamson, Francois Cevert, Peter Revson, Helmuth Koinigg, Mark Donohue, Tom Pryce, Ronnie Peterson, Patrick Depailler, Gilles Villeneuve, Ricardo Paletti, Elio de Angelis, Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna all died while committing their lives and safety to the pursuit of the elusive Formula 1 championship—many of these in horrific circumstances. Tragically, Jules Bianchi being the most recent death in F1 while pursuing his dream.

I wonder what cute emoji and clickbait tweet F1 could offer up to professionally and respectfully discuss this with the gravitas it damned well deserves? While luring viewers to re-tweet or click a link—and doing so with cute clapping hands, googly eyes or poop emojis—perhaps the new owners and their social media guru could find new ways to do what everyone else is doing on social media and in the process, debase the sport as well as betray the gravitas this series deserves.

A brand—and one bought for a billion dollars or so—seems to have placed its entire global voice in the hands of someone with a penchant for banal, emoji-laden tweets that rival Formula E in the timeline-flooding white noise category.

F1 is not alone in this, I am stupefied by the massive companies who tweet like they’re on a Cheetos and Mountain Dew-fueled bender flooding the timeline with the most banal posts dripping with emoji’s and animated GIF’s in the hopes that some sheeple will click on it. Imagine the American Medical Association discussing colon cancer with poop emoji’s…yes, we’re in that territory with F1’s OTT emoji use dragging the brand’s voice down with it. It’s not “fun, quirky and chippy”, it’s base.

I’m not beyond having fun with a brand, Red Bull did that very well in the early days, but there are professional ways of doing that when a brand’s voice is on the line and at risk.

Formula 1 is better than this. Its rich and tragic history demands more than this and the voice deserves the respect and gravitas the sport demands. One would presume that Liberty Media knows the history of the sport and can move it to new levels while retaining a professional brand voice and respecting those who died building the sport and the fans that place it above all other racing series.

Reverence for the sport from the new owners would be nice given that the fans have always approached F1 in that spirit. Is there an emoji for reverence, respect or professionalism? Maybe they’ll start tweeting that one to show they care about what they bought and how fans really feel about their product. At least that’s my New Year’s wish…that and the hope that the OTT streaming package will be terrific.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.

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13 Comments on "Dear F1…please stop"

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Emil Forsmark
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Emil Forsmark

Seems they took the same path for social media as formula-e…

Toastiejoe
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Toastiejoe

As someone who has been following F1 since the mid 1950s, I’m quite enjoying the stuff you are castigating……some of it fun, some of it useful/interesting reminders. Could they more and different aimed a bit differently? Of course, hope they will.

Rapierman
Member
Rapierman

Remember when we were the ones railing against the establishment and they were the ones who didn’t “get us”? Guess what? We’re it now, and it’s our turn to get railed on. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

charlie
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charlie

For a sport that once eschewed social media, I’m not surprised to see the new F1 suddenly embrace it as a long lost relative. Every driver and every team inside the sport has some presence on social media except the sport itself and it may seem like a 20-something Millennial P.R. grad may be in charge of their Twitter feed. But itsn’t that the new audience they’re seeking now? So why are we shaking our fists and shouting “hey you kids, get off our race track?”

peterriva
Member

Amen. Simple as that.

Michael H
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Michael H

I agree 100%. Ferrari doing it as well, but not as bad. Use Twitter just to keep up with a few different feeds. During the season was following Formula1 and Ferrari. Turned them both off before season-end. Ridiculous.

Nigel
Guest

Honestly, everything seems childish anymore. I was in a petrol station recently and I saw a sign advertising “Adult Coloring Books”. I thought when they said “Adult” they meant ‘color in the sexy maid right before she gets ravished by the hunky fireman’ kind thing, but oh no, this is an actual COLORING BOOK for adults! It wasn’t that long ago we had 19 year olds storming the beaches of Normandy and saving the World, now we have Adult Coloring Books and one of the biggest sports on the planet using emojis…….

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