How Envision Racing’s marketing boss creates campaigns that grab attention
Following his appointment as a judge for The Drum Awards for Marketing EMEA, we caught up with Daniel Matson, Envision Racing’s head of marketing and communications, to hear more about the Formula E brand’s higher purpose in sustainability.
Envision Racing’s head of marketing and communications, Daniel Matson
Daniel Matson didn’t intend to work in advertising. He had dreams of becoming a professional sportsman, but injury ended his career early. In his time competing, however, he had been fascinated with the impact that sport, culture and music have in inspiring people’s lives. He then found himself working for brands including Red Bull and the Premier League, before joining Envision Racing in 2019.
In his time leading the marketing at the Formula E brand, he has pushed its sustainability efforts through collaborations with Kids Against Plastic, which saw it create a replica Formula E race car from single-use plastic waste at Cop26. He has also driven initiatives with the brand such as Race Against Climate Change and Climate Action Program.
When you started in your role, this sport was much newer. As it has matured, how has your marketing strategy changed and developed along with the audience?
Everything we do is ingrained in our purpose. That hasn’t changed as it has scaled, but with it being a new sport and there being many sports out there that have been around for decades, we need to work harder to get that attention. Our approach must be much more innovative, creative and bolder.
We repositioned a few years ago and now our branding is very bright and influential and green, which aligns with our mission. We create campaigns that grab attention. The world is full of brands doing stuff that people ignore. It has to be innovative, surprising and captivating.
We have seen huge growth over the last two to three years, despite the pandemic. Digital experiences became real, especially for us when our season got suspended, and within the last 24 months our first-party fan data has increased 9,000%.
What have been some of your favorite campaigns at Envision Racing?
In 2021, we teamed up with Cop26. As the only team in the world of sports to be an official partner with the summit, the collaboration helped it reach new audiences. We created a 1:1 scale replica Formula E car from 100kg of plastic litter collected by Kids Against Plastic, a campaign group aiming to help young people learn about environmental issues. The vehicle, Recover E, engaged with schools across the UK to raise awareness of single-use plastic on a global stage. And to build on the success of this campaign, we are about to embark on another version of the car, this time within electronic consumer waste.
At the end of last year, we challenged English footballer Trent Alexander Arnold to see if he could make the ultimate assist. Could he score a goal with the help of one of Envision Racing’s e-cars? Simply put, yes, he could.
We push the boundaries on content and creative collaborations. It’s about humanizing sustainability and exciting audiences through the combination of sport and entertainment. These creative collaborations bring us to new audiences and new worlds.
What social platforms are you finding the most success with audiences?
We have had a lot of success on TikTok and Instagram. There has been strong growth on Instagram and across our social platforms and we have grown about 350% or 400%. TikTok has really come to the table in the last 12 months – it’s so popular, especially among younger fans. And on top of that, we’re still seeing Snapchat really popular for the under-16 gen Alpha audience.
What has been your proudest career moment?
At Redbull, I led a team of incredibly creative brand marketing and communication specialists across sports, music, culture, gaming and product. At that time, our focus was on building relevancy with gen Z and female consumers. 2016 was peak music time. We created a brand property called Red Bull Grime-A-Side that fused football and music. It was a platform that gave aspiring emerging artists a credible platform to reach new audiences, but it also allowed us to tap into gen Z and create a unique property.
It was a format based on five-a-side football and we selected grime artists as captains in key cities and they had to pick four other artists in that city to join them and then the cities battled. It was put to a public vote and they went through rounds, like in the FA Cup, to the final.
The platform really discovered AJ Tracy, who’s now a huge international artist, but there were a number of emerging artists at that time who were not known. To see the reaction and how many hundreds of thousands of people voted, that was a really strong IP that I was able to create for RedBull and which ran for a number of years.
Why is it so important to celebrate success?
Brands can really learn from one another. The Drum Awards is an excellent example of inspiration in brand and marketing teams. It’s really highlighting the best, most innovative and creative of campaigns. That challenges your perspective and your approach. It then inspires brands to create even better work. I always encourage my teams to look at best practices and winners, to take the learnings and to challenge conventions in your industry for new approaches and methods.
Where do you go for inspiration?
Inspiration is all around you. Open your senses. Brands are in such a fortunate position – especially big brands that can leverage that inspiration for the benefit of people and the planet. I think that is incredibly inspirational. There is a lot of untapped inspiration that could be harnessed.
Daniel Matson is a judge on The Drum Awards for Marketing EMEA jury. The deadline for entries is March 23.