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How to learn marketing from F1. One stop for entertainment and education!
This is a story about how USD $250,000 in F1 can buy you marketing and publicity for 18 years and counting.
Before we begin
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Onto the Main Story
Before the sport was sold to Liberty Media and #cashisking became the motto around the paddock this sport somewhere used to only be for them racing fanatics. Lets dive into some background, shall we.
Back in the day, the sport used to be what the word meant - SPORT. So much so that even when the celebs came to the paddock and garages they didn’t get as much footage as they get right now. Now with that picture in mind, think about this; This was true for the crown jewel of tracks - Monaco as well, where money floods. Getting marketing events done with high profile people did not lead to much as screen time and messages they got out was ever so limited.
Lets travel back in time.
The year is 2004. The team we wanna talk about is Ford owned Jaguar. Now, Jaguar then was what Mclaren or Aston Martin is in 2022. Midfielders trying to just survive. However, Jaguar was stuck here for quite some time. Ford saw this as a loss making business and Jaguar was at a pressure point to either score good points or be ready to be chopped off.
This is the year that Ocean’s Twelve - the movie - came out. Given what you know now about celebrities on the paddock the Jaguar PR team was thinking of how to best bring all the light onto them in a “unique way”
2 additional piece of context without which the rest of the story wont be as juicy and funny:
The movie involved a heist - about an EGG.
Jaguar drivers were Mark Webber and Christian Klien. Who is Christian Klien you ask. EXACTLY. BUT! He’s the main protagonist of this story. Whaaaaa.
The great marketing mind
Jaguar PR head comes up with the genius idea to use diamonds as a marketing plot. How? Hmmm good question. They chose to embed the diamond into the nose of their car! Whaaaaa…
Trust me we asked the same question, but in hindsight it was worth it. You might agree too. Anyways, back to the story.
Given the Parc Ferme rules of FIA, they had to get that Diamond on their car before the race weekend began on Thursday. Early on during the practice session too, Latifi... Oops sorry, Klien had a minor inCHIdent (as Leclerc would say it) but that did not affect the nose of the car and the diamond was fine.
As part of PR, the team got Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Mark Webber and our hero Christian Klien to do Photo ops with the front wing and the shiny shimmery diamond in it. The hype was created, the stage was set, it was the talk of the town and everyone - the movie, the team, sponsors - everyone was getting amazing publicity.
What really transpired
During qualifying, Latifi… oops, I did it again, Klien qualified P15 and was gonna start the race almost towards the end of the pack. On race day, there were 2 other incidents already that delayed race starts. Finally when racing began, Klien thought he wanted a 3rd restart for the Sunday. As such he went into a “minor” brushing inCHIdent with Nick Heidfiel’s car. Ooh, by the way, this was LAP 1.
Now to the juicy part. By the time the car rolled on the famous hair pin turn at Monaco it had already suffered damage and at that corner it rammed into the barriers. Klien luckily walks out as a stroll in the park and the car is retrieved to be found with no diamond on the front wing.
To add to the drama, very conveniently, the nose broke off right at the exact spot where the embedded diamond ended.
Purists vs Realists
For some purists here, you can find solace in thinking - F1 probably invented a technology wherein condensed carbon when exposed to air probably vaporizes. Or also that it was probably swept away in debris cleaning. But for my realist friends like us, someone nicked off the diamond very conveniently for it to be never seen again.
What transpired later:
The PR team never even went in search for it or formally investigated the curious case of missing diamond. Everyone took this as the “Cost of doing business”.
The diamond was obviously not insured as nobody would do that given the risk involved and as such as it was also the “Cost of doing business”.
The PR head resigned. :wave:
For Klien, that was the last season in F1. :wave:
One unknown person (or maybe a new heist crew) got super rich!
Why is this the best Marketing campaign?
Now obviously this was a well orchestrated heist. They had seen Ocean’s Eleven. Ocean’s Twelve was coming out and so we think, they ended up doing a heist of their own. Stealing an egg would have obviously not been as juicy; Honestly, an egg on an F1 car wouldn’t have looked nice too; they chose to steel a diamond.
The sad part of this heist though is they had to plant the diamond themselves. And then go steal it. A bit Meh if you ask me.
Onto a list to justify why this was the best campaign:
18 years later we are still talking about it. I don’t want to take names of the diamond company and our protagonist’s assist - the Jaguar PR head but all are still celebs and for years to come.
The PR head resigned, but did he call it quits? I don’t think so, think of a movie ending where he is probably on a beach in Italy sipping on wine.
Who is next to him - may be Klien.
The damage on the car, relatively minimal. Artistically broken off to only let the condensed carbon atoms out loose. Hence, any other costs to the “marketing” budget was brought down significantly.
Ocean’s twelve did three times its budget on the box office.
So if you think there is enough drama on the paddock in 2022, well this article should knock that thought out by miles! F1 probably has soo many more “Blast from the past” items that we could keep entertaining ourselves for a long long time.
Until next time, CIAO!
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