Heineken’s deal with the ABB FIA Formula E Championship is one of the brand’s most important, according to its senior brand director Gianluca di Tondo.
Di Tondo, who is in charge of Heineken’s accounts in both Formula E and Formula 1, says that the deal in the all-electric series is ahead of its existing F1 partnership on like-for-like planning.
The Dutch brewing company is the largest of its kind in Europe and entered into a five-year partnership with Formula E in October.
“If I see where we are today compared to where we were at the beginning of the journey with F1, then I say today we are three steps ahead,” di Tondo told e-racing365.
“A lot of the learning we got from F1 we were able to put in place for Formula E.”
A phase of absorbing knowledge about the Formula E landscape has already commenced with signage, activations and corporate programs completed in Santiago last month.
More concentrated fan engagement will be seen in Hong Kong, Rome and New York, with di Tondo stating that Rome will see Heineken at its most “visible” with significant activations in the Italian capital.
“Specifically for Heineken we learn that sponsorship is a very effective way to engage with the consumer. It is a very important program for us,” said di Tondo.
“F1 is going well in terms of how much the fan saw Heineken as a big part of the sport. In two years we have become the second most associated brand to F1 after Pirelli.”
Heineken saw Formula E as the ideal complementary platform to F1 and especially its exposure to millennials and a new breed of motorsport fan.
“The younger side of consumer audience is attractive to us of course,” said di Tondo.
“But it is very important to be racing in cities as well. We want to add a platform which makes our picture complete because combined they complement each other so well.
“For us, if you are in the city then you are at the race. It goes beyond the race track for us, right down to the point-of-sale opportunities and the embracing of so many new and existing consumers.”
For Formula E the overriding campaign that Heineken promotes is the ‘When You Drive, Never Drink’ message which is centered around Heineken’s 0.0 non-alcoholic beer.
This beer is unique due to its brewing method which sees two beers made and blended before the de-alcoholization process is applied.
Digital Engagement Key
The brand entered motorsport for the first time in 2016 through a large deal with F1 which included naming rights of several races.
Prior to this, its was synonymous with the UEFA Champions League soccer tournament, which is by far the most lucrative sporting event in the world.
Heineken sees key digital assets in Formula E being utilized hand-in-glove with the all-electric championship’s own advances in innovative fan engagement such as Fanboost.
“Formula E captures very well watching the race and actively participating with a device like a phone or tablet or whatever,” said di Tondo.
“We are developing our digital assets for Formula E because this is where we engage with the target audience better.”