Formula One is for the fogies, says Ecclestone

F1 chief executive has no interest in attracting younger generations to the sport

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed suggestions the sport needs to engage with a younger audience and develop a greater awareness of social media.

Ecclestone and F1 have often been criticised for a lack of activity on Twitter, Facebook et al, which in turn could help attract a new fanbase.

Although television global audience figures remain high at around 350million per grand prix weekend, that has dropped from 500million in recent years.

That is partly due to the sport’s ageing demographic, but also given the variety of viewing platforms these days, such as via smartphones and tablets.

Despite F1’s obvious need to be more high profile on social media, Ecclestone said: “I’m not interested in tweeting, Facebook and whatever this nonsense is.

“I tried to find out, but in any case I’m too old-fashioned. I couldn’t see any value in it.

“And, I don’t know what the so-called young generation of today really wants. What is it? You ask a 15 or 16-year-old kid ‘What do you want?’ and they don’t know.

“The challenge is getting the audience in the first place.

“I say to some of these people who start this nonsense about social media, look at what tobacco companies tried to do, get people smoking their brand early on because then people continue smoking their brand forever.”

In an interview with Campaign Asia-Pacific magazine, the 84-year-old added: “If you have a brand that you want to put in front of a few hundred million people, I can do that easily for you on television.

“Now, you’re telling me I need to find a channel to get this 15-year-old to watch Formula One because somebody wants to put out a new brand in front of them? They are not going to be interested in the slightest bit.

“Young kids will see the Rolex brand, but are they going to go and buy one? They can’t afford it. Or our other sponsor, UBS. These kids don’t care about banking.

“They haven’t got enough money to put in the bloody banks anyway. That’s what I think.

“I don’t know why people want to get to the so-called young generation. Why do they want to do that? Is it to sell them something? Most of these kids haven’t got any money.

“I’d rather get to the 70-year-old guy who’s got plenty of cash. So, there’s no point trying to reach these kids because they won’t buy any of the products here, and if marketers are aiming at this audience, then maybe they should advertise with Disney.”