“For months now we’ve been working in almost complete secrecy with Norman Howell and his comms team at F1 and Guy Horner and Mark Bustard at Velocity, with one aim in mind. From STEM and education activations for young kids on the square, to the up close and personal thrill of F1 cars roaring through the capital, we wanted to deliver a unique event that showcased F1’s ambition to bring the sport to a new more family orientated fan base. London provided the perfect backdrop, but without the help and professionalism of TfL, the emergency services, the Mayor and his team, and Westminster City Council, none of this would have been possible.”
Ed Williams, CEO, Edelman UK & Ireland
This ambitious event drew on skills from across the agency’s practices, including Brand, Corporate, Public Affairs, Government Relations, as well as requiring senior counsel and issues management. Its successful delivery was down to this amazing team work within Edelman, as well as with Formula 1 and events company, Velocity.
Here is what PR Week said about the big day:
Edelman helped Formula One draw large crowds on the ground and brought millions of people to owned and influencer media channels with its work on an ambitious live event, announced at late notice, in London earlier this month.
Edelman UK’s brand, corporate reputation and public affairs teams have been working F1 since its acquisition, which completed in January, by Liberty Media.
The acquisition has meant a reduced role for the sport’s former frontman Bernie Ecclestone and a comms shake-up with new global director of communications Norman Howell (below) talking about wanting fans to “get closer to the action on and off the track, with new levels of entertainment and engagement” when he was hired in February.
For several months, F1 and Edelman were planning a live event to bring that action closer to its fans, and in particular to a new more family-orientated audience. This big-budget event, put on by Velocity, was scheduled for Wednesday 12 July, ahead of the weekend’s British Grand Prix. It was free to attend.
F1 Live London started with a schools and innovation showcase in the afternoon, aimed at getting children and young people interested in STEM careers. Then followed an evening of music from Little Mix and others, and F1-based entertainment including cars from all of the current teams going for a spin around central London.
Edelman and F1 opted not to announce the event was taking place until 24 hours before the action kicked off, in order to balance concerns around security, disruptions due to road closures, and to create a buzz around the event.
Will Walden, Edelman’s UK MD of public affairs, who has experience of such live events having worked for London’s previous mayor Boris Johnson, said: “Given the sheer scale of the event the timing of any announcement was all about balancing expectations. Announce too early and London could easily have ground to a halt. Too late and we risked a late rush. Announcing 24 hours out gave us perhaps one of the shortest brand and press activation windows of any campaign we’ve ever attempted.”
Edelman says that 100,000 people attended the event, under mercifully sunny London skies.
More than a third of those attendees lining Whitehall and Trafalgar Square to witness the car parade, which included 19 of the current 20 F1 drivers – the absentee being home favourite Lewis Hamilton, who was on holiday in America.
The agency hosted a total of 28 lifestyle, gaming and motoring influencers during the day, whose content reached more than 12.5 million people globally, according to Edelman.
Among these were the @London Instagram account, whose content gained 3.2 million impressions – and reached plenty of women, given its 62 per cent female followership.
Alongside this influencer content, which also included motorsport enthusiasts WTF1 and Gaskings, F1 Live London enjoyed more than 17m impressions across all owned platforms, and more than 2m video views on owned platforms, during the first 24 hours post event.
There were up to 50 Edelman staff working on the event at its busiest, and the agency’s leads on the event were Jeff Romeo, James Bruce and Sophie Rhatigan.