Carey: Signing new sponsors 'harder' than expected

Chase Carey (USA) Formula One Group Chairman.
ยฉ XPB 

Formula One chief executive Chase Carey says that finding new corporate sponsors for the sport has proved to be "slower and harder" than expected.

But he insists that interest in the championship is growing as Liberty Media works hard to grow F1's global profile with significant investment in promotion and digital media.

"This is a unique sport, with passionate fans,โ€, Carey said this week. โ€œIt is sport that differentiates itself from other sports, given its marriage to technology and the nature and global aspect of the sport.

โ€œIn a world increasingly commoditised and fragmented, events that rise above are increasingly valued," he added.

While there are plenty of interested parties out there, actually getting them to sign on the dotted line is proving harder work than Carey had anticipated.

โ€œOur sponsorship group have been flat out and will be right through the end of the year, and hopefully some of those turn into signatures," he insisted. "[But] not all of them will.

"Sponsors want partnerships that are more tailored uniquely to them. In the past signs on a wall worked fine [but] that doesn't work now," he told Motorsport.com this week.

"You need to tell that story, and you need to develop tools," he explained. "Whether it's digital initiatives, regional feeds, virtual ads, fan festivals - all those types of opportunities to create tailored targeted opportunities.โ€

Carey said that when Liberty Media took over ownership of F1 from CVC Capital Partners at the end of 2016, and Carey himself replaced Bernie Ecclestone as CEO, he quickly found that the previous management had been largely neglecting the sponsorship side of the business.

Bernie Ecclestone (GBR) with Chase Carey (USA) Formula One Group Chairman.

โ€œOur cupboard was pretty bare, because we didn't really have a sponsor group,โ€ he said. โ€œWe hadn't created any tools ... We hadn't created capabilities to tell the story of F1, to create some excitement."

But Carey is confident that this has all changed now, heading into 2020 and said he was currently busy working through a three-page list of potential parties.

โ€œThe traction with interested sponsors has been on a steady rise, we've never been busier," he insisted. โ€œCertainly, I'd say we feel we have gotten progressively better, as we've gone along.

"It's been slower and harder than I would have planned it to be a couple of years ago," he admitted. "I think that in many ways is the nature of where we started, and we started really from ground zero."

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