Last year, we wrote an article about the advantages and disadvantages of using memes as part of a marketing campaign. This Generation Z phenomenon has become a huge part of the marketing strategy for an F1 team in particular. The Haas F1 Team.
The origins of the Steiner boat meme
Haas went through a tough period since the COVID-19 pandemic. As a small team with few sponsors, they were unable to develop the car for 2021. They could only focus on 2022 and the new era. Ural Kali, a Russian company specialized in the production and sale of potash, was their main sponsor in 2021 and was originally renewed for the 2022 season. Nevertheless, the situation in Ukraine quickly deteriorated and the F1 team decided to break its contract with the company.
After a change in the driver pairing (Nikita Mazepin exited the team as Ural Kali was his only way to keep his F1 seat, and Kevin Magnussen returned after a year out of the sport), Haas ended up finding sponsors. One of them was Home Deluxe. They made a photoshoot with the brand as part of the deal signed. These photographs were released a few months after and went viral at this moment.
The Steiner boat meme
For this campaign shoot, Mick Schumacher (son of Michael Schumacher) and the team principal Guenther Steiner took poses next to the brand’s furniture. Thus, it went viral for the simple reason that the fans all thought the pictures looked ridiculous and did not really reflet the image of an F1 team. As a matter of fact, F1 teams are worth millions of dollars and usually are sponsored by luxury watch brands. For example, Ferrari is being sponsored by Richard Mille.
The image below is the one that went viral.
We can see Guenther Steiner posing next to a wooden boat for children, still available on sale today. The 2022 season started right after the release of the shooting pictures and the F1 team nailed their comeback. Kevin Magnussen finished in the points, the first time for the team since 2020, and achieved Haas’ and his best finish in an F1 race, by finishing 5th. After the race, the communication team posted this tweet:
“Time for Guenther to get an upgrade! The Steiner Ship is growing! 💪 #HaasF1 #BahrainGP”
This tweet alone has gathered more than 69000 likes and more than 3000 retweets. This is significant for a small team like Haas which recently reached a milestone, a million followers on Twitter. Indeed, they have on average between 2000 and 3000 likes for a post-race publication. It was very successful and brought thousands of followers to the team’s social media.
A smooth sailing journey ahead?
The 2022 season is only starting and yet the boat was upgraded 3 times already. Even if each of the two most recent upgrades accumulated more than 40000 likes, will the meme boat series continue throughout the whole season?
As a reminder, an F1 season starts in February and ends in December. This year there is a total of 23 Grand Prix. With only 5 Grand Prix done and dusted and a very promising season for Haas, the 18 future Grand Prix and its 18 potential boat updates may no longer go viral. A potential turnaround that the team must be wary of, at the risk of losing the followers’ excitement and social media engagement. They can also explore the possibility of switching back to more classic content to erase the idea of ridiculousness given by the repeated memes and show again their professionalism also through concrete results on the track.
Only time will tell, but by then let’s see where the Steiner boat will take the F1 Haas team.