|Stephen Curnow- CCO, Lotus F1 team|
|Profile of the week|
Monday, 05 November 2012 12:43
Stephen Curnow is the Chief Commercial Officer at the Lotus F1 team. In his role, he oversees all of the team’s commercial and marketing activities.
Stephen has a long background working in sports sponsorship, including roles as a sponsorship manager at both Euro 1996 for the F.A and at Coca-Cola GB, before becoming a Senior Vice-President at SFX Sports Group and has been in his current role with Lotus F1 since March 2011.
By Douglas Elder
I hope I bring some fresh thinking to the role having spent a number of years sponsor side with Coca-Cola before experience working within the football industry. F1 as a business needs to welcome marketers from outside of the sport. The nature of rights sales is changing in sport with more of the balance having shifted toward the sponsor over the past few years. All sports, including F1 have to embrace that change and ensure their product offering is both relevant and of value to a potential partner. The “old days” of rate card selling are over with a greater emphasis on true business partnerships. Having worked sponsor side I hope I have a good understanding of what a commercial partner is seeking.
Lotus recently announced that they would be keeping their driver line-up for next season, how commercially attractive are your drivers for sponsorship opportunities, particularly Kimi Raikkonen?
I think we have a very attractive package of drivers that complement each other. Given the considerable movement in the driver marketplace it’s comforting to have some stability. Both Kimi and Romain provide very different and interesting opportunities for partners, Kimi having been utilised by Unilever for both Rexona and Clear in some exciting global campaigns, and Romain as the global face of Total. On and off track both are delivering great results for the team and are a joy to work with.
Do you think Lotus are in a position to challenge consistently for race wins next season and return to championship winning ways?
All the ingredients are there. Many of those working at Enstone were present during the last world titles in 2006 and therefore know what it takes to win a championship. Investment in Enstone has been considerable and our owners Genii Capital remain committed to giving the team all the resources required to bring the title back. On track the team has performed consistently well this year which offers great promise for the future.
How important is the historic Lotus name to your team’s success and relationship with sponsors?
Lotus remains one of the most famous names in F1. Together with the iconic black and gold livery it offers current and potential sponsors a brand that touches the hearts of F1 fans the world over.
Formula One has seen a recent shift to new markets, with new races in India, Korea and Abu Dhabi examples, how does that affect your sponsorship targets?
Our focus as a team is to attract worldwide partners with a reach that extends from the traditional established markets into the BRIC countries and beyond. As a team we welcome the push into these countries and the benefits it offers our partners who utilise F1 globally.
In times of economic austerity, how does a sport like Formula One – associated with luxury – stay relevant to its key audience?
F1 works on so many levels and is more relevant today than it’s ever been. The global TV audience provides global media coverage with exceptional regularity with a quality of TV production that is unrivalled. Added to that we entertain 4,500 C suite in our team hospitality facility throughout the season creating an unparrarelled opportunity for our partners to build business. However it’s key that F1 continues to listen to its audience and ensure our product remains relevant and I think the sport as a whole has been successful at doing that.