ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone has denied saying he was not interested in the youth audience because they did not buy expensive watches or bank with the sport’s sponsors.
“I never said younger generation, I said children. The question to me was children,” the 84-year-old told Reuters at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“I don’t know how many six or seven-year-old kids there are with a Rolex (watch), which their parents have probably bought for them. It’s not the six year olds that buy the product we advertise,” he added.
“I answered a question. The question was about children. That was it.”
An interview in Campaign Asia-Pacific magazine caused a rumpus last week when Ecclestone was quoted as saying “I don’t know why people want to get to the so-called ‘young generation’.”
The Briton added that he was not interested in social media and such ‘nonsense’ because he was too old-fashioned.
He was also quoted as saying “I don’t know what the so-called ‘young generation’ of today really wants. What is it? You ask a 15 or 16-year-old kid ‘what do you want’ and they don’t know.”
Speaking at the Yas Marina circuit after presenting the ‘Bernie Ecclestone Trophy’ to the winning British team of the Formula One in Schools competition, Ecclestone clarified his remarks.
“We want to attract a teenage audience. That’s what we want to do. So people grow up like the guy who’s 30 years old now,” he said.
Ecclestone’s comments have been a talking point in Abu Dhabi, even if team principals have refrained from open criticism.
“Educate the children and you grow them into being customers,” said Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff, whose team have won both Formula One titles this year.
“For an aspirational brand like Ferrari definitely our demographic is from the moment they can switch on TV or they can enter in a Ferrari store until when they can afford a car,” commented Ferrari principal Marco Mattiacci.
Red Bull’s Christian Horner added that his brand was ”very much about youth and absolutely the team has a huge following from the youth segment, that’s male or female. It’s irrelevant of sex, or age or race.
“But what you have to remember is that when you’re 84, a 70-year-old is still pretty young.”
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly