McLaren Racing’s new managing director of sales and marketing Mark Waller is promising more consumer-facing brand partnerships and a “much more aggressive” approach to digital and social media from the motor-racing team during his tenure.
Waller joined McLaren in May, moving from the NFL where he had worked for the previous 13 years in several executive positions. He was most recently executive vice president of international, and played a key role in the NFL’s ten-year deal to host annual games at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London.
In an exclusive interview with SportBusiness ahead of last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, Waller outlined his plans for the development of McLaren’s commercial business.
Echoing the recent focus placed on digital content and digital fan engagement by Formula One owner Liberty Global, he said: “You’ll see us be much more aggressive in digital and social media. I think that’s a huge opportunity for all of F1 and the teams.”
Waller believes there is huge interest to be tapped in behind-the-scenes content that gives fans insight into the work that goes on behind the races. “I think we’ve got a lot of opportunity to develop media content on our own that can tell our story and the background, behind-the-scenes stories of our drivers, our team, and our partners, which for many people are as compelling and as interesting as the race itself.”
Alongside driving fan engagement, the second major strand of Waller’s role is in developing commercial partnerships. These must fulfill three functions for McLaren, he said: generating revenue, providing technology and other materials to support the functioning of the team, and helping extend McLaren’s own brand.
Although the team already has 51 brands in its sponsorship roster, he said there was scope for more, particularly consumer-facing brands.
“We’ve got a great portfolio of technology partners and functional partners that drive performance. But, for example, we do a lot of travelling and we don’t have a travel partner. We have a great hotel partner in Hilton, but we don’t have an airline partner. That would seem to be a logical opportunity.”
The McLaren Racing team is the motorsports arm of UK-based car and technology manufacturer McLaren. McLaren Racing is adding an IndyCar team to its portfolio next year, returning to the American motorsports series for the first time since 1979. The British brand will supply technical, commercial and marketing expertise to the Arrow McLaren Racing SP team, which is being run in partnership with American motor-racing team Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (Arrow SPM).