Optimum Nutrition has embedded itself in the culture of a myriad of sports. Starting within its roots inside gym halls, the nutrition brand has had its imprint across sports leagues and teams, including England Rugby, footballer Tammy Abraham and now, the McLaren F1 team. 

Colin Westcott-Pitt, Chief Brand Officer of Optimum Nutrition parent company Glanbia, shares what made McLaren the suitable partner to venture into F1 and the changing dynamics of marketing in F1 and the rest of sports. 

Insider Sport: Firstly Colin, what qualities did McLaren F1 possess to become the latest official sports nutrition partner of Optimum Nutrition, and vice versa?

Colin Westcott-Pitt: McLaren is an iconic brand, with a long-standing reputation for high performance, which we see as a perfect fit for Optimum Nutrition, which has been setting the standard for performance nutrition for over 35 years. 

Once we started getting to know the team at McLaren, we felt there was a really good fit in terms of ambition for our brands and some of the ideas we could create together.  

IS: Formula One has experienced an explosive growth in popularity over the past several years. What are some of F1’s key marketing and growth strategies you have identified and how will this ultimately benefit Optimum Nutrition in its partnership with McLaren?

CWP: It’s no secret that the amount of people engaged in F1 has increased dramatically in recent years, which has been the result of a powerful combination of sporting excellence and entertainment. Drive to Survive is now in its seventh season and the social media following for F1 and its teams is huge with a young, digital audience. 

Within the F1 world, McLaren is an impressive team – young charismatic drivers with great social followings and across the team they are dedicated to high performance – for example, the McLaren pit crew hold the world record for fastest pit stop time. 

Partnering with McLaren is a great opportunity to bring Optimum Nutrition to a large, new audience in a way that’s a great fit for the brand.

credit: Shutterstock

IS: Are there any tailored Optimum Nutrition products you believe will translate best for F1 drivers and pit crew, as well as for fans of the sport?

CWP: We believe we already have the very best products, and the McLaren team uses a range of our existing products (like Gold Standard Whey) according to their needs. This means our consumers can use the very same products for recovery and strength training that the McLaren drivers use themselves which we think is really important. 

In addition, we’re working with the McLaren team to identify opportunities to work on products together to help drive performance of the drivers and the broader team. 

IS: Will there be any new or different approaches in marketing within F1? Are there opportunities to tap into certain markets that are not feasible in other sports? 

CWP: There are always new and exciting things going on with F1 and McLaren and we’d like to be at the forefront of that. Inspiring people to unlock their performance potential through our creative platform “There’s More of You In You” is at the core of what we do. 

We’ll be working with the McLaren team to bring that to life in the most unique and exciting way we can.

IS: Optimum Nutrition has fully ingrained itself now into a plethora of sports. What do you attribute to the company’s rapid rise in brand awareness and exposure? 

CWP: In recent years, we have expanded our range of sports and performance partnerships beyond our heartland of the gym so we can reach a broader audience. 

Globally we are involved in soccer, cricket, CrossFit and endurance to name a few. We’ve always worked with leading athletes in whatever sport we are involved in – in nearly all cases our athletes and advocates already use our product to improve their performance, meaning the partnerships are natural and beneficial for everyone.

credit: Shutterstock

IS: Lastly Colin, and thank you for your time, how does Glanbia currently view the sports marketing landscape at the moment? What are some of the emerging approaches and technologies that can help revolutionise space? 

CWP: We see a couple of key themes. The first is the accelerating impact of digital and social media in reaching new audiences for an increasing number of sports. This creates opportunities for brands to become part of the sporting experience. 

As an example, McLaren has a social media following of over 30m, many of whom are incredibly engaged in everything to do with the team. Therefore, the challenge for brands is how to stand out – it’s not easy and it requires a commitment to creative content development and unique ideas to bring sponsorships to life. 

The second theme we see is the attractiveness of the sports and performance space – consumers are increasingly committed to doing whatever they can to improve their own performance – whether it’s equipment, in our case nutrition, or other areas such as sleep. Sponsorship is competitive and brands are keen to invest which can drive up cost of entry. 

At Optimum Nutrition, we work hard to be credible in the places we invest and we find that pays off in the long term. 

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