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Genpact’s partnership with Formula E’s Envision Virgin Racing drives higher engagement with clients and fans

Genpact’s tie-up with the electric motor racing team Envision Virgin Racing gives the B2B company a window to demonstrate its AI and analytics capabilities to clients. Paul Snell caught up with CMO Stacy Simpson to discuss the benefits and its latest ASMR video campaign

When professional services company, Genpact was looking for an arena to show off its technical and organisational expertise, it identified Formula E and the Envision Virgin Racing team as ideal partners.

If you’re not familiar with Formula E, it’s essentially motor racing in electric single-seater cars. The series launched in 2014, and takes place in 12 cities across the globe. Teams include both major motor manufacturers such as BMW and Audi as well as technology businesses. It’s also introduced new concepts such as the FanBoost, where the three most popular drivers voted for by fans get a power boost in their cars for the second half of the race. 

The partnership – signed at the end of 2018 – forms part of a wider repositioning of Genpact in the market which began two years ago with a complete rebrand, overhaul of the visual identity and new approaches to thought leadership.

According to CMO Stacy Simpson, the deal combined three crucial elements:

  • A shared philosophy on the role technology can play in helping companies be competitive. 
  • Innovation that will directly impact the future of mobility and driving. 
  • The ability for Genpact to apply its technical and process expertise in a unique situation.

“We were only ever going to do something like this where we could come in and do work that was going to help them,” she tells B2B Marketing's Paul Snell. “The Virgin Team were looking for people philosophically aligned with them. They were looking for people who could add a new perspective, a new set of insights and were looking for mutual value exchange.”

The benefits of partnering within Formula E

Stacy Simpson, CMO, Genpact

Genpact CMO Stacy Simpson

The benefits for Genpact are multiple. Along with the boost to brand awareness, there’s the ability to translate the work done for the team into case studies for its clients.

Under the partnership Genpact uses its analytics and AI capabilities to support the team in its racing. Stacy gives an insight into what this means in practice. In Formula E races last 45 minutes, plus one lap. It’s crucial to be able to accurately predict how many laps will take place in the race – it could be more or fewer depending on conditions or crashes, for example – as this affects how you manage the battery power available in the car. Fewer laps might mean the ability to push harder, or vice versa, which would significantly impact the team’s chances of winning the race.

“Knowing a minute and 30 seconds sooner that you’re accurate on remaining laps affects your strategy,” Stacy says. “So we created case studies that have gone into detail on that type of work, and then we say what this means to your supply chain, or your trade promotion schedule, when you need items on the shelves at a particular time.”

She adds working in an environment where data is at the heart of the operation is both exciting and refreshing. 

“When you talk to Sylvain Filippi (Virgin Racing MD and CTO), he says our car doesn’t leave the garage without data because on the track everyone’s using the same equipment, so the skill of the driver and how the driver and team is able to analyse the insights from the mounds of data is the difference.”

Generating a response by using ASMR

The latest part of the campaign is a video, created by the Bafta-winning director Lorry Powles and features Envision’s British driver Sam Bird. It hops on the trend to create an ASMR experience.

ASMR stands for ‘autonomous sensory meridian response’ and uses visual and audio stimulation to create a tingling response from those that listen and watch them. 

“We’re looking end-to-end at what conversations we’re engaging our clients in, and honestly this relationship has been a natural evolution of that journey,” says Stacy. “It’s the opportunity to take a really important story and tell it in a fun, compelling way, and hopefully it gives you some goosebumps and engages all your senses.”

Reaching a new demographic

The partnership also includes more traditional activation, with clients invited to races to experience Genpact’s work first-hand. This is great for Genpact’s audience of CTOs, Stacy says, as the staff at Virgin Racing are technologists at heart so “when our clients come in they’re having a full CTO to CTO brainstorm because everyone wants to talk data, technology and innovation”.

There’s also the opportunity to reach those outside Genpact’s more traditional sphere. Formula E attracts a very different demographic to traditional motorsport, Stacy says. It’s younger, the gender split is 50-50, and followers see themselves as early-adopters and innovators first, and motorsport fans second.

Stacy says: “If you look at the orientation of the audience, they tend to be mid-career – so perhaps a bit more junior than our current buyer – but they’ll grow up and become buyers and the next generation of decision-makers. This is opening us up to an audience that are the right targets for us, but just might not be our exact buyer yet.”

The partnership is also an emphatic employer branding statement in terms of attracting and hiring talent all around the world.

In terms of measuring the return on investment on a partnership such as this, Genpact the traditional awareness and engagement metrics in place. In fact, when the company puts information out relating to the partnership, Genpact sees top-line engagement metrics five to seven times higher than usual.

Stacy is keen to point out the partnership’s direct relation to revenue: “We also have pipeline metrics against this because we’re doing real work for this company and they’re a real reference for us in a big way. So we needed to ask 'are we getting leads and pipeline out of it?'. We are absolutely seeing the early stage of the pipeline, and we’ll find out if that converts.”

Asked for her advice on entering a partnership of this type, Stacy is clear you need to have internal stakeholders on board before you do so.

“Make sure your business wants it,” she urges. “What I mean by that is I was excited about it, but my job then was to take it to my peers across the leadership team and find out if they wanted it. Is it going to help them drive more traction with their clients? Or attract their next clients? The answer was a resounding yes, but if the answer is a no, then it’s no [to the partnership]. When something is a ‘marketing effort’ by itself it doesn’t get the same traction.

“That was critical. If you go it alone you’re probably going to get cool thought leadership and some great ads, but if your sales and business teams aren’t lined up for this information to take to their clients you’ll only get part of the success.”

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