Wednesday 18 September 2019

The formula for success in the fast lane of motor sport

Ad Lib: Media and Marketing

Mark Gallagher who was marketing director at Team Jordan for 10 years.
Mark Gallagher who was marketing director at Team Jordan for 10 years.
TAM chief executive Jill McGrath
Lefevre cider

Michael Cullen

Forget about the fast cars, the glitz and glamour. Top Formula One teams all have the best technology but what makes heroes is the team and the driver is the last link in the chain. Ordinary mechanics do an extraordinary job. So says F1 marketing expert Mark Gallagher who was in Dublin as a guest of event agency Pluto Communications to talk about his 32 years in motorsport and promote his book, 'The Business of Winning'.

As marketing director at Team Jordan for 10 years, Gallagher  earned the tag "head of making things happen". He helped Jaguar shift gear to Red Bull Racing. He supplied one in three F1 teams with engines and re-established Cosworth on the circuit with 13 driver champions and 176 grand prix wins - second only to Ferrari.

Gallagher points to a transformation in how money is made in F1, which he labels as "an industry, an engineering business" employing 6,000 full-time staff. The product just happens to be a racing car, aerospace with amazing gadgetry to hand. Right in front of every F1 driver is "a PlayStation on speed". F1 is now about data and video streams.

The sponsorship model which saw Team Jordan sign Benson & Hedges is broken, replaced by TV rights. Sponsorship revenue accounts for $143m, while TV is worth $1.7bn, half of which goes to promoter Bernie Ecclestone. Gallagher, who commentates on Sky, refuses to accept the media's view that Ecclestone is to blame for F1's abject state of affairs. He says teams were badly managed, lacked leadership and had no proper business plans. How F1 is run will change when the diminutive Ecclestone (84) retires.

Team Marussia, owned by the Russian billionaire Andrei Cheglakov and Caterham, the team owned by Queens Park Rangers' chairman Tony Fernandes, have filed for administration.

McLaren pioneers innovation and their technology is deployed by other businesses and sporting bodies, including Team GB in the Olympics. They divested by providing hospitality services and consulting. Engines can give the same performance while burning 40pc less fuel.

Gallagher respects Eddie Jordan's F1 record and regards the former AIB bank clerk as a "fantastic guy" - but jokes about his Eircom ads. Ferrari was always Jordan's benchmark. Winning in the pits is as important to Gallagher as winning the race and it all comes down to having able mechanics.

Some drivers are better than others at supporting team marketing. He says Lewis Hamilton, who will win this year's world championship if he ends first or second in the final race, tends to focus on "what can the team do for me?" One suspects Gallagher may pop the champagne if Hamilton's rival and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg takes centre stage on the winners' rostrum in Abu Dhabi on Sunday week.


How TV viewers have made the switch

With more people watching TV on devices, TAM Ireland ran a pilot test to get a breakdown on laptop and PC use. A test sample of 60 homes from the existing TAM panel was launched using Nielsen's Netsight meter. What the data shows is none too surprising. The biggest viewers online are 15 to 24-year-olds from larger homes with four or more residents, particularly those with children and multiple sets.

Average peak time viewing was 22 minutes a day, mainly catch-up or time-shift, with far less live TV. TAM chief executive Jill McGrath says the findings concur with previous TV studies by Ipsos mrbi. TV audiences are boosted by viewers watching on devices.


Lecturer's sparkling idea with French draught cider

Aside from lecturing final year marketing students at IT Tallaght, Gerry Kennedy has French cider on his mind these days. The former McConnells copywriter is part of a quartet behind the Lefevre Cidre produced from apples grown in the Normandy-Picardy 'Orchard of France'. The cider is sold in 330cl bottles in 150 Irish pubs and off-licences, including chic Dublin bars No Name in Fade Street and Blackbird in Rathmines.

After a series of trials, Kennedy hopes to launch Lefevre on draught soon. Helping him create pack designs is former McConnells colleague Paul Barrass, whose day job now is creative director at Bartle Bogle Hegarty's Face to Face agency in Dubai. Kennedy is no stranger to the drinks business, having worked on the Smithwick's account for many years. His family own the well-known Kennedys pub in Drumcondra.

* The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) has made changes to its agency roster. After a competitive review involving four creative shops, the ILCU has appointed Havas Worldwide Dublin. Havas will work with Core Media's Clear Blue Water in rolling out a new loans campaign. Focus Advertising created the ILCU ads fronted by rockabilly singer Imelda May.

Michael Cullen is editor of magazine;

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