Okay, I know that it has taken decades for F1 to arrive in India, and the F1 fans are scurrying for tickets from all over India. The VIP seats are already taken, thanks to our influential and attention-hungry political and business class. I read that the hotels in Noida have quadrupled their tariffs in F1 anticipation. That brings me to two very interesting questions a) Is F1 the new cricket of India? b) Is F1 the next big marketing platform? It’s almost a yes for both. Airtel is the sponsor of F1, Vodafone is doing big print adverts nowadays, and given the global nature of sport (It’s telecast live in almost every country on this planet) it’s a unique opportunity for Indian brand going global such as Mahindra, Airtel, Tata, etc. More than that, given the glamorous nature of sport, it’s a great marketing vehicle for high-end brands that often lack platforms to put their labels on. Cricket is mass-drive, hockey is forgotten, football doesn’t exist, and Polo is too exquisite. F1 is just the right platform to target the burgeoning middle class and the affluent. I’d be hoping to see luxury brands make the most of Indian F1.

The race has got the right kind of hype already. The print media is creating a hype, digital is somewhat underutilized, TV will take some time coming. F1 has cult following in India. Either there are crazy fans or those who can confuse pit with Pitt (Brad). What augurs well for Indians is that now we have an Indian brand that has already had a podium finish. Karthikeyan has been an F1 driver and it seems Chandok will go a long way too. I won’t be surprised if there’s a prodigious talent karting somewhere in Bangalore right now.

The first year is going to be a bit lukewarm on the advertising front but I see F1 going big in the coming years as a marketing platform. It sounds good. I can’t help asking myself when will India host a tennis grand slam? It will make big bucks for sure. Marketing & Advertising has never been so exciting. Thanks Bernie!

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