Millennial and Gen Z consumers are increasingly expecting businesses to demonstrate purpose as well as profit, according to a survey conducted this summer by Deloitte. Roughly 60% of the 18,426 respondents from 43 countries said they planned to spend more with large businesses that “positively affected society.” Meanwhile, 80% said governments and businesses had to do more to protect the environment.
“Many people are rethinking the definition of ‘value,’” Sharon Thorne, Deloitte Global’s board chair, told Forbes in March.
For Formula E, that’s good news. The all-electric open-wheel racing series launched in 2014 with the express goal of promoting electric vehicle adoption. “What you’ve seen this year,” Formula E CEO Jamie Reigle said, “is obviously a heightened awareness of the power of sport.”
Formula E recently leaned into its mission, becoming the first sport to establish a net zero carbon footprint. “I think you’ll see more and more sports do it,” Reigle said. “The expectation has been set, especially with younger audiences.”
Reigle—who previously worked for the Los Angeles Rams and Manchester United—was brought in a year ago not only to maintain the sport’s eco-friendly status but also to get its message out to a larger audience. “This was all about taking something fantastic and making it bigger,” he said.
To do so, he recently hired a cadre of C-level execs with experience at a variety of established brands. Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer Hannah Brown spent a decade at Sky before more recently growing fuboTV. Chief Brand Officer Henry Chilcott comes from McLaren while Olivier Bremont, Formula E’s new Chief Commercial Officer, was previously at Red Bull. Chief Media Officer Aarti Dabas made her name leading the International Cricket Council’s media rights team for five years, making deals with traditional distributors and social giants.
This spring was particularly harrowing for the European automotive world as sales dropped to their lowest figures since the fall of communism. That triggered a new round of conversations about cost control among Formula E’s teams. Drivers have now turned their attention to an adjusted 2021 schedule that will start in Santiago, Chile, on Jan. 16. Formula E will visit New York next July before concluding its season in London. Reigle also said that he’s hoping to race in Southern California, as electric vehicles have proven more popular on the west coast thus far.
While Formula E’s mission is a distinguishing feature, Reigle isn’t relying on it to create new fans.
“I genuinely believe we need to focus on the core product,” he said. “If we can’t create a really exciting racing product that more and more people tune into every year, you’re ultimately speaking to a very small audience and our message won’t spread.
Sportico is part of Penske Media, whose CEO, Jay Penske, also owns Formula E racing team Dragon Racing.