Assessing Formula One as a sponsorship opportunity in South Africa

SponsorPulse Staff
  • March 29, 2021
  • SponsorPulse Staff
Using our proprietary data, we analyzed Formula One as a potential sponsorship opportunity in South Africa and highlighted some areas of partnership that would stand to benefit most in the nation.

And we’re racing in South Africa!

Or at least we hope to be, as Formula One's Global Director of Race Promotion Chloe Targett-Adams suggested when she discussed the return of F1 to the African continent during the BlackBook Motorsport Virtual Summit in late February of this year. Targett-Adams claimed that “Africa is a continent that we don't race in, and that is just wrong…It's somewhere that we very much want, it's the priority. We've been intalks with possible options for a few years.”

The Formula One executive concluded by saying “We're hoping that, ultimately, we will be able to achieve a race there in the near to mid-term."

Using SponsorPulse data, we are able to represent the consumers’ voice and help Targett-Adams & co. paint a clearer picture of F1’s performance in the African nation (and further afield). One of the characteristics that makes SponsorPulse such a powerful sponsorship-intelligence tool is its breadth and consistency, something often lacking in the world of sponsorship marketing. The unbiased nature and methodology of the platform culminates in accurate, credible data that equips its users with the knowledge and insight needed to make more optimal business decisions, faster. So, enough of the chit chat - let’s dive in and see what the data tells us about Formula 1 as a sponsorship opportunity in South Africa…

6193f428fc27eac32b31e1ea F1 SA
Just how big is Formula 1 in South Africa?

There is simply no doubting the sheer size of Formula One as an international racing giant. The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile’s (FIA) highest level of single-seater automobile racing is recognized and followed by fans from all around the globe; conducting almost all of its Grand Prix in different countries, visiting multiple continents each year. Using the SponsorPulse Opportunity Score – our universal, insight-driven currency that helps measure and compare sponsorship opportunities instantly –we can rank Formula One and other properties across 18 of the world’s largest markets to assess their performance and identify the areas of opportunity. For example, Formula One performs most strong in Italy, where it receives a SponsorPulse Opportunity Score of 45. In Spain and Brazil, the racing competition receives Opportunity Scores of 42 and 41, respectively. The country where Formula One receives the fourth highest Opportunity Score? You guessed it - South Africa. Receiving a SponsorPulse Opportunity Score of 36, Formula One is the 43rd ranked sponsorship opportunity overall in the African nation. To add more context, F1’s Opportunity Scores in Australia, USA, and Canada are 18,13, and 13, respectively; demonstrating the potential that South Africa presents as a host for its own Grand Prix.

Now, we understand that there are myriad of factors that go into the decisions on where to host Formula One events. Simply suggesting that F1 should bring its product back to South Africa because of the nation’s affinity towards the sport would be irresponsible of us. However, the data suggests that there is a healthy following of Formula One in the African country and that at the very least the FIA should explore ways to continue building a strong connection with this group of consumers.According to our data, 48% of South Africans have engaged with Formula One at least once in the past year, and of that cohort, 43% are excited about the competition and what it has to offer. Of the original engaged group, 32% claim their interest in the competition will likely increase over the next year, and 21%-22% claim they would be more favorable and more likely to consider purchasing from a brand that sponsors F1 in a way that they like.Another testament to the popularity of Formula One in South Africa can be seen in the performance of popular F1 teams such as MercedesFerrari and Red Bull Racing. Mercedes and Ferrari both receive SponsorPulse Opportunity Scores of 39, while Red Bull Racing falls (not far) behind with a Score of 34. As we can see, F1 racing presents a viable opportunity for brands looking to connect with the South African consumer base.

Breaking down Formula One consumers in South Africa

The following are the top 5 purchasing categories that stand to benefit most from a partnership with Formula One in South Africa:

  1. Sporting good retailer (54%)

  2. Consumer electronic retailer (52%)

  3. Home improvement retailer (52%)

  4. Ride-sharing platform (50%)

  5. Food delivery service (50%)

SponsorPulse data shows 54% of people who have purchased from a sporting good retailer in the past year have engaged with Formula One at least once over that timespan. The same can be said of the 52% of those who have visited a consumer electronic or home improvement retailer. Lastly, 50% of people who have purchased a ride from a ride-sharing program or ordered food from a food delivery service in the past year have also engaged with F1 at least once. Marketing managers can often lean on this data to identify areas where a partnership may be most suitable, or to help bolster their sponsorship pitch. SponsorPulse also collects data on digital usage behaviours, providing insight into the ways a property and its sponsors can meet and intercept the intended population. For example, the following are the top 5 digital usage behaviours for South Africans who have engaged with Formula One in the past year: 

  1. Uber (53%)

  2. Google Photos / Google Play (53%/50%)

  3. YouTube TV (52%)

  4. Twitter (50%)

  5. Netflix (48%)

To clarify, this indicates that that 48% of people who have watched Netflix in the past year have engaged with Formula One at least once over that timespan. Not necessarily surprising given the popularity of Netflix’s docuseries Formula 1: Drive to Survive.

The 2021 Formula One season began yesterday with the ever-beautiful Bahrain Grand Prix held at night and under the lights. Some of the biggest changes to the sport included the returns of Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team and world-renowned driver Fernando Alonso. Only time will tell if another legend of the sport will make a much-anticipated comeback: Kyalami Circuit in Midrand, Gauteng, South Africa.To receive more sponsorship data on Formula One teams, events and other FIA properties, visit!