How Pitch and Virgin Racing Won FanBoost

Just months before the inaugural season of the all-electric racing series Formula E got underway, the championship embraced the power and importance of social media by introducing a unique feature – ‘FanBoost’. Giving fans the opportunity to vote for their favourite driver to receive an extra ‘boost’ of power in-race, the series empowered its audience and bridged a relationship between drivers and fans.

Working with the Virgin Racing Team to coordinate all social media and PR activities gives Pitch a unique opportunity to help influence the outcome of a race.

At the Long Beach ePrix, Virgin Racing driver Sam Bird won FanBoost and this is how we at Pitch helped him and the team do so…

What is FanBoost?

For those new to Formula E, the exclusively electric racing series has a fan engagement element called ‘FanBoost’. With other motorsport championships falling behind when it comes to social media, the purpose of FanBoost is to engage audiences by allowing them to vote for their favourite driver to win an extra speed boost during the race. At each event in the Formula E calendar, the three drivers with the most votes in the 60 minutes before the race are rewarded with a temporary spike in the power output of their McLaren-sourced electric motor of 30kW.

What was the idea behind the campaign?

The challenge was to build a campaign to drive people to vote for Virgin Racing drivers Sam Bird and Jaime Alguersuari. We wanted to ensure that whatever we did was in line with the Virgin Racing team personality – good humour and tongue in cheek.

The starting point for the campaign was to capture the public’s attention by capitalising on a a key event in the general public’s calendar– the general election.

With the intensity of the general election rapidly increasing, the concept was drawn from the traditional campaigning elements of political canvassing. As party leaders Cameron, Clegg and Miliband began their campaigns to rally their supporters Virgin Racing did exactly the same but this time led by Bird and Alguersuari with their very ownparty political broadcast.

Working closely with a production team and a script writer, we mapped out a creative concept from initial idea development, to the storyboard to developing a humorous script, before taking to  the streets of London to film the drivers in action

The Execution

Armed with a 2 minute edit and several outtakes we were ready to launch our vote canvassing campaign with a Virgin Racing party political broadcast.

Timed to match the start of the general election campaign, the Virgin Racing team interrupted their fans’ timelines to bring them the team’s FanBoost broadcast. Using insights and analytics from the Virgin Racing team’s social media channels to gauge when the audience are online and also what time they engage the most, the video was published to appeal to the target demographic and their online behaviours.

As a result, the FanBoost broadcast video reached 10x the Virgin Racing existing Facebook audience and received 10x the average number of likes the team’s content receives.

The engagement that the video received across several platforms included comments such as:

As a result, Virgin Racing driver Sam Bird won FanBoost at the Long Beach ePrix!

Why did it work?

From the Virgin brand to the Virgin Racing car, the assets that the team has access to are key in factoring what can be leveraged to create content. Aside from being part of an aspirational brand such as Virgin and having their existing values to maximise, the Virgin Racing drivers are the two greatest assets the team has.

With a confident Brit in Sam Bird and a passionate Spaniard in Jaime Alguersuari, the team’s drivers are both established in the world of motorsport and are a young and refreshing duo. We were able to showcase and reflect Virgin Racing’s values through the driver’s individual personalities and that’s an advantage that not all brands can claim from ambassadors.

Tapping into the news agenda and tailoring it specifically to Virgin Racing followers captured the interests of fans of all ages, especially when the key messaging provoked the same audience action – VOTE.

Why is it important?

When the video was released, the result was an instant buzz across the Formula E social media community spreading further to motorsport fans and then the general public. With people voting for the Virgin Racing drivers who had previously never voted before and others changing their allegiance for Virgin Racing based on the content they were provided with, the video was a quick success. As the first real ‘campaign’ in the FanBoost world, the Virgin Racing team managed to resonate with new and existing fans and give people a genuine reason to vote for a driver.

Overall, the content was more than just about winning FanBoost. Showcasing the Virgin Racing driver’s personalities through fun activity that captured the attention of a widespread audience and reflected Virgin’s wider brand values, the Virgin Racing team are now front of mind when fans think of Formula E.


Further Reading