Ecclestone: Formula 1 doesn’t need young fans

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Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone believes that the sport does not need to focus on engaging with the younger generation of fans, saying that there is no value in embracing social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

In a wide-ranging interview with Campaign Asia-Pacific, the 84-year-old said that F1’s marketing strategy did not need to be altered to allow it to expand its audience beyond TV.

“I’m not interested in tweeting, Facebook and whatever this nonsense is,” Ecclestone said.

“I tried to find out but in any case I’m too old-fashioned. I couldn’t see any value in it, and I don’t know what the so-called ‘young generation’ of today really wants. What is it? You ask a 15 or 16-year-old kid: ‘What do you want?’ and they don’t know.

“The challenge is getting the audience in the first place. I say to some of these people who start this nonsense about social media, look at what tobacco companies tried to do: get people smoking their brand early on because then people continue smoking their brand forever.

“Now, you’re telling me I need to find a channel to get this 15-year-old to watch Formula 1 because somebody wants to put out a new brand in front of them? They are not going to be interested in the slightest bit. Young kids will see the Rolex brand, but are they going to go and buy one? They can’t afford it.

“That’s what I think. I don’t know why people want to get to the so-called ‘young generation’. Why do they want to do that? Is it to sell them something? Most of these kids haven’t got any money.

“I’d rather get to the 70-year-old guy who’s got plenty of cash. So, there’s no point trying to reach these kids because they won’t buy any of the products here and if marketers are aiming at this audience, then maybe they should advertise with Disney.”

Formula 1 has made some inroads with social media in recent weeks, with the sport’s official Twitter account providing far more in-race coverage and becoming more than a simple RSS feed.

However, as the teams continue to engage with fans through any means possible, F1 itself still appears to keep them at an arms length, and judging by these comments, that does not look set to change any time soon.