In Mid-March 2022, as the new 2022 Formula One season approached its first Grand Prix in Bahrain (18 to 20 March), the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 team handed over control of its F1 brand story and build up to the race to TikTok creators.
@astonmartinf1 Introducing I / AM LIVE, the ultimate BTS access. Driver Q&As and special guests all LIVE at the track each weekend, and it all starts Thursday. #WhereAllFansPlay #DriveTheLive ♬ original sound – Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant
The bold step saw the Aston Martin team cede control of its TikTok to fan-influencers to let creators tell the story. The team’s idea is to ‘redefine the role of F1 fans’ by creating a marketing platform built by the fans for the fans and TikTok is the primary tool for this creator-led strategy.
The approach began when the Aston Martin team appointing TikTok as the official creator partner for its Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 car launch programme which led to an AV-led car launch campaign conceived by fans via a framework created by agencies Unit9 and Cake.
This resulted in a number of initiatives led by a six hour launch live-streamed on TikTok with creators publishing exclusive content and hosting hashtags.
Join us live from behind the scenes at the AMR22 launch
@astonmartinf1 The #AMR22 is coming. Join us from 08:30 GMT on 10.02.22. See you there. #WeClimbTogether #WhereAllFansPlay ♬ original sound – Alisa
Ahead of the first race of the season, the team and its social media short form video partner launched an on-platform fan Q&A with driver Lance Stroll.
@astonmartinf1 Got a question for Lance Stroll? Comment below and we'll ask the best ones during our live today at 14:00 GMT #WhereAllFansPlay #F1 #f1tiktok #formula1 ♬ On My Mind x Heads Will Roll – switchdisco
”They [the fans] can do a better job at telling our story than we can,” said the team’s Chief Marketing Officer Rob Bloom who orchestrated the takeover. “We are trying to create a platform that creates community around the fans and the stakeholders to make them part of the story.”
Bloom, who joined the team last January after a nine-year stint at McLaren, believed the timing of the TikTok takeover was perfect as it coincided not just with spiking interest around the new race season, but also around the debut of the second season of Netflix’s successful ‘Drive to Survive’ docu-series (credited by some as having reinvigorated F1 fan engagement and bringing new fans to the series).
“Drive to Survive has been one of the most significant marketing plays the sport has ever seen,” added Bloom. “While F1 has previously brought A-list celebrities trackside to boost the sport’s reputation, that’s now a thing of the past as today’s fans crave more authentic stories. There is now an opportunity to engage a broad audience on a global scale, but also the storytelling opportunity about the role of tech and data that tells our brand positioning,” he adds.
The TikTok content also dovetailed with the car brand’s umbrella ‘We Climb Together’ new season campaign which connects the F1 team with the road cars through a consistent style across marketing and communications.
“Aston Martin is a brand that is hugely respected and admired around the world, but with F1 we are giving people an entry point that had been kept behind the red rope before,” continued Bloom. “F1 is a key entry point into Aston Martin: helping it tap into younger audiences who might not be able to afford a road car now but are the “customers of the future”.
Working with title sponsor and data firm Cognizant and the Havas agency network, Aston Martin is also in an early phase of a new project to leverage data from its F1 fanbase (including ticketing, race attendance, F1 shop merchandise and broadcaster viewership) into wider consumer marketing plan to identify potential customers of Aston Martin road cars.
It was in 2021 that Aston Martin rebranded the Racing Point F1 team to Aston Martin F1 to engage F1’s 85 million fans and use the team as a flagship to increase the desirability of its road cars.
Aston Martin, which returned to Formula One in 2021 after a 60-year break, may pride itself on being an iconic 109-year-old British heritage brand, but it simultaneously strives to stay relevant to ‘fans and customers of the future’.
Last year saw TikTok become the official creative partner of the team in a tie-up that aims to reinforce the short-form mobile video platform’s mission ‘to inspire creativity and bring joy’ and the deal was activated when Aston Martin launched its first TikTok content on 17 June 2021.
@astonmartinf1 Welcome to the team, @tiktok! TikTok is our first ever Official Creator Partner – and you're the reason we're teaming up. #WhereAllFansPlay #IAM ♬ original sound – Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant
Interest in F1 is growing solidly largely thanks to Netflix’s 10-part ‘Drive To Survive’ attracted 50 million views after the first series came out in 2020. The show is credited with significantly boosting F1 interest, fandom and ratings – particularly in the US market which has long been dominated by Nascar.