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March 9, 2022

F1 hires Activision’s Snow to new senior commercial role; TCL sponsors Australian GP

Formula 1 (F1), the top motor racing series, has appointed Brandon Snow from video games developer Activision Blizzard to lead its commercial operations.

By Tariq Saleh

Formula 1 (F1), the top motor racing series, has appointed Brandon Snow from video games developer Activision Blizzard to lead its commercial operations.

Snow has taken on the newly created role of managing director of commercial and will report to F1's president and chief executive Stefano Domenicali.

He essentially replaces Sean Bratches who stepped down as F1’s managing director of commercial operations in 2020.

Bratches, a former senior executive at US sports broadcaster ESPN, had been one of the men at the helm of F1 since the start of 2017 when he was brought in by Liberty Media following the US media giant’s acquisition of the sport.

He initially continued to support the business in an advisory role but was recently named chief commercial officer of LIV Golf Investments, the newly formed company of which Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund is the majority shareholder.

Snow, who took up his new position at the start of this month, is based between New York and London.

He will be responsible for overseeing all commercial operations at F1 from sponsorship to licensing.

Snow spent the past four years as chief commercial officer at Activision.

Prior to that, he was at basketball’s NBA for 10 years in multiple senior commercial roles across the US and China.

His appointment comes after Ellie Norman recently departed her role as F1’s head of marketing after four and a half years at the organization.

Snow joins the prestigious motor racing series as it continues to gain popularity in his home market in the US, largely due to the success of the ‘Drive to Survive’ Netflix series.

That series has since helped to attract a new audience for F1 – especially from a younger demographic – with viewing figures in the US and other key target markets having reached record levels in 2021.

With the fourth season of the docuseries set to debut on the streaming platform on Friday (March 11), Greg Maffei, the Liberty Media chief executive, is hopeful the relationship with Netflix can be prolonged given the benefits for both parties.

In a recent conference call with analysts, Maffei said: "I think it's a great partnership. It's been a win all the way around.

“It has clearly grown our sport, not only in the US but around the world. It is a great thing for Netflix as well. So I hope the marriage continues for a long time."

The 2021 season of F1, which the fourth iteration of Drive to Survive documents, was the most competitive for a number of years, culminating in a controversial finale in Abu Dhabi on December 12 that saw Red Bull’s Max Verstappen clinch the title ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton (through a final-lap overtake) after the two had gone into the race on equal points.

F1 recently revealed a 4% year-on-year increase in its cumulative TV audience to 1.55 billion for the record 22-race campaign.

The figures showed major year-on-year cumulative gains in a number of significant markets, including the Netherlands (81%, no doubt fuelled by interest in part-Dutch world champion Verstappen), the US (58%), France (48%), Italy (40%), and the UK (39%).

The US has clearly been among F1’s biggest growth markets and the series is strategically looking to capitalize as it will debut a second race in the country next season in Miami and is reportedly eyeing a third in Las Vegas in the coming years.  

Meanwhile, TCL, the Chinese television and consumer electronics manufacturer, has been named as the official television partner of the Australian Grand Prix.

Under a one-year sponsorship deal, TCL televisions will be displayed throughout all premium hospitality facilities at the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne.

Dutch beer brand Heineken serves as the title sponsor of the race.

The deal adds to TCL’s global sport sponsorship portfolio which includes major partnerships with basketball’s international governing body FIBA, and the Brazil and Argentina national soccer federations.

The Australian Grand Prix will make its return to Albert Park on April 7 after the 2020 and 2021 editions were canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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