F1 marketing drive shifts into gear

The Formula 1 music showcase in Abu Dhabi featuring Prince and Kanye West is to be promoted on up to 100 regional media channels.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 01:  The cars prepare to start their warm up lap before the first Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 1, 2009 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***  GYI0058796387.jpg
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The Formula 1 music showcase in Abu Dhabi for November featuring Prince and Kanye West is to be promoted on up to 100 regional media channels. Flash Entertainment, the concert organiser, launches the marketing drive today and said public relations would also play a strong part in promoting the month-long Yasalam 2010 programme, which will feature a series of free events in the capital.

Yasalam includes the concerts over the F1 weekend and runs from October 12 to November 14. "You're looking at up to 100 different channels in the UAE and the region," said Mike Fairburn, the director of marketing and planning at Flash. Every major channel including TV, print, outdoor, radio and online media will be part of the campaign, which will show Abu Dhabi as "a progressive, cosmopolitan destination", Mr Fairburn said.

"We do a lot with Lebanese and Arabic magazines. We do a lot on Abu Dhabi TV, Al Jazeera and OSN, which is one of our partners, and the Abu Dhabi Media Company [ADMC]." ADMC owns and publishes The National. Mr Fairburn declined to specify the marketing budget for the Yasalam event but said it would be less than last year's. "Traditionally for a year-two programme, you don't need to spend as much as in year one," he said.

Advertising will not be booked with international publications but a PR drive is expected to promote global coverage of the Yasalam event. "We try to book and bring in artists that are going to, by proxy, generate coverage," said Mr Fairburn. "Last year we had huge coverage overseas for the artists that played - Beyonce, and particularly Aerosmith. "And they generate the international publicity … Prince is a classic example. He's not played live for a while and that's going to stimulate that international [attention]."

Mr Fairburn cited the coverage gained after the rock band Aerosmith gave an interview to CNN at last year's event. "We had something like 60 to 70 repeats over the course of two months," he said. "What's crucial is word of mouth. Ultimately the products will generate their own publicity." Flash has contracted the PR firm Hill & Knowlton to work on the event. Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, is sponsoring the F1 Fan Zone on the Abu Dhabi Corniche.

Flash also works with Etihad Airways and said it would promote the event through the airline's ticketing offices. Mr Fairburn said Flash was also "in discussion" with the Abu Dhabi media centre twofour54 over film projects at the event.