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F1 film title: Good marketing or alienating move? Our writers have their say

What's in a name? Plenty when it comes to marketing 

f1movie

F1 Movie with Brad Pitt

Photo by: WarnerBros

F1 and Apple have tied up a deal with Warner Bros. Pictures to distribute the film worldwide next summer with a teaser published on Sunday 7th July.

Filming resumed at Silverstone after Hollywood's SAG-AFTRA strikes last year, with the camera crews following actors Brad Pitt and Damson Idris, who drive for a fictional team called APXGP.

It is being directed by Top Gun Maverick director Joseph Kosinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who with the help of Lewis Hamilton acting as a producer, have promised the most authentic racing film.

The on-track action has been done in modified Formula 2 cars that have been adapted to accommodate 14 mounting points for small Imax cameras and dressed in F1 bodywork.

Before the launch of the teaser, F1 announced the name of the movie, which left our writers divided.

'F1' is the perfect title… for F1

Unoriginal? Sure. Direct? Definitely. The whole point of this project? Yes.

Giving F1's big-budget feature film the same title as the championship is entirely in keeping with a series where every idea is replicated to the nth degree. But it gets to the essence of the concept: this is about getting F1's name and product to even more potential new consumers. 'F1' is 'Drive to Survive' on steroids.

Brand exposure is the dull reality, but that didn't exactly do 'Barbie' any harm for Mattel last year. This raises an interesting related point about the growth of IP marketing projects in Hollywood right now, but it also demonstrates that F1 is on the ball in this regard.

cars being filmed for new F1 film APEX starring Brad Pitt

cars being filmed for new F1 film APEX starring Brad Pitt

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Another part of the title that cuts directly to the point is that F1 wants 'F1' to be authentic. This is why the Apex GP squad has been given so much access – to the point that team staff from real squads are being warned not to 'spike the lens' when actors pop up in familiar places in the paddock at Silverstone. F1 wants the film's viewers to see the story take place in a real setting to try and pique their interest.

Ultimately, any film lives and dies on its plot. That's always going to be subjective, but even if it's not to everyone's taste, getting the F1 name to a new audience – 'F1' is set to be put on Apple TV+ once it's had its run in cinemas (given that's what happened with Ridley Scott's 'Napoleon'), so sitting front and centre of an estimated 25m people potentially choosing what to watch each night from their TVs – is the name of the game here. Really, we should be asking why we ever expected it to be anything else.

Films that didn't exactly suffer from being called exactly what they were? How about 'Titanic' or 'Apollo 13'? Eveb 'Grand Prix'…

Alex Kalinauckas

A risky move that could alienate new audiences

Formula 1 has so much to gain from the Hollywood film being a success. They have invested so much time in the project and received the full support of the teams and drivers while Apple has stumped up with an excellent cast, production team and dug deep to provide arguably the most technologically advanced high-speed vehicle ever used in a film.

They have also said they are focused on authenticity and presenting a true reflection of F1, which is great, if you are already a fan of the sport.

However, the film also has to appeal to a new audience unfamiliar with Formula 1, which makes me wonder about the decision to call it "F1".

Yes, it makes sense from F1's perspective and, if it were to win an Oscar, think of the kudos and appeal the sport would hopefully gain.

However, titling it "F1" also has the possibility of alienating potential cinema-goers and film buffs, who will have preconceived ideas about the sport and may subsequently give it a wide berth.

Brad Pitt filming F1 race movie

Brad Pitt filming F1 race movie

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

In the same way, on the movie poster that was distributed, the "F1" is actually the championship's logo, on which views are also mixed.

When it was first published in 2017 as part of Liberty Media's rebranding of the sport, the point was raised that the new logo looked similar to that of ESPN's, the US broadcaster.

Indeed, the logo had been created by a team at design agency Wieden+Kennedy and had come about through Wieden's previous work with ESPN in New York.

While fans are now familiar with the logo, and it has been an undoubted success, my concern is that using it in promotional material remains too niche for a wider audience, particularly in North America. Therefore you run the risk of not knowing what the film is called in the first place.

That said, I am sure the film will be a resounding success, I just think the title lacked a little imagination.

Ben Hunt

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