By Steve May, Copywriter and Director at ROCKATANSKY
Live sport is about atmosphere. Atmosphere is sound.
While I understand the need for pushing technological boundaries, Formula E just doesn’t work. Sure, it’s ideal for vehicle manufacturers to showcase their electric wares (and are also perfect for inner city racing), but they’ve seemingly forgotten about the most important ingredient of all: the fans.
Sound is life. It’s what produces all those little goosebumps at live events. English Premier League games are now louder than many motor racing events; the fans are engines.
In fact, I find going to a rugby league game quite boring at times, because there’s simply no atmosphere unless it’s a Grand Final or State Of Origin (again, it’s the noise factor of the fans). I’m accustomed to watching it all on TV with commentators screaming at me, replay music belting out, and refs with microphones chatting away. For me, the best thing the NRL – National Rugby League could do is pump Ray Warren live at games through the PA.
But I digress.
Atmosphere rises with volume.
Each time I see a Formula E car take off with only tyre-friction groans and a whistle of an electric engine, another goosebump dies.
At this year’s Formula 1 race in Melbourne, the only time every phone came out of pockets to film was when the 2-seater Minardi rocketed around (old-school V10). Because even when it passed and screamed into the distance, it was still there; you could hear it from the other side of the circuit. In turn, you could hear it getting closer as it came back around. Anticipation. Excitement. It was just one car. But the sound felt like a battalion of them.
Fans love this. Fans don’t love crickets.
Guess it’s why I enjoy Sprintcar racing. It’s loud. It’s dusty (at times). Smells. Nothing but riotous V8 engines. I’ve got a couple of goosebumps awakening as I type.
Then there’s Top Fuel drag racing. Nitro.
If you’ve never seen one live, you’ve neglected your senses. Shame on you.
If I was marketing Top Fuel drag racing, this is what I’d be leaning into more than ever, right now. Sound that’s more than sound. It’s a physical attack on your body. Really, it’s incredible. I know they’ve touched on it in the past in marketing, but boy oh boy, I’d be smashing that as a comms thought. Interestingly, one of the best things about watching Top Fuel is actually watching other people’s reactions.
NASCAR is amazing to watch live, again, because of the speed mixed with the sound.
World Rallycross is going great guns thanks to noise, dirt, jumps and Ken Block.
Supercars here in Australia are way too soft. Way.
If you’re not putting your fingers in your ears at a motor race, you may as well be watching the Tour De France.
But, of course, it’s all about that bloke from the EPA with the microphone, now.
Bernie Ecclestone is scrambling to make Formula 1 louder again, because he knows they’ve stuffed up. If you can have a normal conversation in the stands with your friends, without raising your voice, as these things rocket past, you’ve done damage to the intrigue and character of the sport. As a result, it’ll get harder and harder to get people to come watch. Those who do come will simply leave with that ‘what was all the noise about?’ feeling.
The novelty-factor is dying (Stadium Supertrucks jumping over ramps are the current fan fave, but they’ll fatigue in time).
Why go to the track when I can watch it all at basically the same volume on my TV?
Look, while the racing may be good (so I’m told), Formula E not only kills the romance of motor racing, but the ‘show’ itself. Seriously, they sound like my mum’s cake mixer.
And when my mum’s cake mixer is louder than a Formula car, the sport is headed for the kitty litter.