LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One would rather cater for rich over-70s than chase a younger generation that cannot afford luxury watches and is more interested in social media, according to commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
In a wide-ranging interview with Campaign Asia-Pacific magazine (campaignasia.com), the 84-year-old Briton said teenagers were uninterested in the sort of high end global sponsors his series was promoting.
“Young kids will see the Rolex (watch) brand but are they going to go and buy one? They can’t afford it. Or our other sponsor UBS — these kids don’t care about banking. They haven’t got enough money to put in the bloody banks anyway. That’s what I think,” he said.
“I don’t know why people want to get to the so-called ‘young generation’.
“Why do they want to do that? Is it to sell them something? Most of these kids haven’t got any money. I’d rather get to the 70-year-old guy who’s got plenty of cash.
“So, there’s no point trying to reach these kids because they won’t buy any of the products here and if marketers are aiming at this audience, they maybe they should advertise with Disney.”
Ecclestone was also dismissive of efforts to widen Formula One’s demographic, with all the teams now employing social media specialists to raise their presence at a time when some television audiences are declining.
Many drivers, not just those who made their debuts as teenagers but also the older ones, are also avid users of Twitter and other social platforms.
“I’m not interested in tweeting, facebook and whatever this nonsense is,” said Ecclestone. “I tried to find out but in any case I’m too old-fashioned. I couldn’t see any value in it.
“And 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. The challenge is getting the audience in the first place.”
The Briton said nobody would miss the Marussia and Caterham teams who went into administration last month. With typically controversial language, Ecclestoone suggested other struggling teams should simply spend less.
“These teams don’t need to be in financial trouble. They need to think about what they have got to spend and do the best they can with that... it’s the same problem with ladies and credit cards.”
Editing by Ed Osmond