During the Cannes Lions Awards that are being held between the 21st and the 25th of June, on the festival’s website has been published a panel discussion about a very interesting partnership started last year between McLaren, Coca-Cola, and Amazon.
The first two have been partners since 2018 when for the first time in history the Coca-Cola logo appeared on a Formula 1 car. On this occasion, however, the project involved also a second American giant: Amazon. This resulted in ‘Driven to Deliver’, an entertaining video featuring the two McLaren F1 Team drivers Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz (who has since moved to Ferrari) driving around in a Coca-cola-branded 600LT and delivering Amazon parcels and Coca-Cola Zero bottles to people.
The interesting discussion went through the details of the collaboration and how it came to be.
The people involved were Zach Johnson, Director, Global Accounts and International Sales at Amazon Advertising, McLaren’s Marketing Executive Director Claire Cronin, Coca-Cola Vice President overseeing the partnership with Amazon Matt Tarallo, Brad Ross, Vice President of Global Sports and Entertainment Marketing and Partnerships at Coca-Cola, and finally the McLaren F1 team driver Lando Norris.
The first concept highlighted is the importance of the collaborative effort put in by each company and how, in marketing, the best projects are almost always the result of such cooperation. The panelists then proceed by introducing the different factors that played a role in the realization of this project.
Brand alignment was the first. Two companies must share similar values at least partially to begin a constructive conversation.
Other factors for success in this collaboration were:
Understanding and leveraging every brand-specific strength or uniqueness
Developing common objectives
Having a shared audience
Relative to the results of this campaign started with the video, McLaren’s Marketing Director Cronin said:
“For us [McLaren] is really about creating memorable money-can’t-buy experiences that drive real social currencies”
Matt Tarallo of Coca-Cola also expresses another important point:
“When we drew it out we wanted something that people would remember […] and how do you have that authentic experience? [...] I think the biggest reward here is leveraging the two drivers and having them in the car together […] you were able to see really the true characters of both drivers…”
And this is arguably the most important factor that not only brought even more attention to the campaign thanks to b-roll and ‘memes’ shared by the drivers on social media but also helped giving it visibility for a long time.
And this is something that the team at McLaren has already understood and is doing better than anyone else.
The genuine approach employed in ‘Driven to Deliver’ showing the true interactions between the drivers, which resulted in some really entertaining comedy, has been used for a while now by the racing division. McLaren like other manufacturers (not just those in F1) keeps two separate channels for the automotive and racing divisions. The two overlap on more than one occasion anyway.
Part of the initial success was surely due to the strong personality of the two drivers and the chemistry between them. It helped to bring visibility to these pieces of content. However this is definitely not the main reason now, as the drivers’ line-up changed in 2021 with Ricciardo replacing Sainz, but the popularity of the show did not.
With Unboxed, McLaren found the perfect formula, which is evident by looking at the difference in engagement that the other teams (even the big ones) get in comparison.
In this synergy, an important part is played by Formula 1 itself. Thanks to an effective social media strategy, with varied and engaging content on every platform, Formula 1 has experienced significant growth in the last few years. In 2020, also due to the difficult situation, the world went through, and people being forced to stay home, the sport registered a staggering 99% increase in social media engagement, more than any other major sports league.
In the words of McLaren’s Claire Cronin:
“Customers nowadays can see through any kind of badging exercise and they can see that it’s inauthentic”
And McLaren is indeed the perfect example of how to develop a genuine communication with fans and customers.
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