Apple switches off its self-driving car to Trippant talks generative AI.

The Takeaway is Trippant’s round-up of essential stories on communications trends in sport, entertainment and experience.  

This week: Formula 1 is back for its biggest season, China is back in the international sports mix, the PIF signs with ATP tennis, Apple switches off its self-driving car, Tony’s teases its fellow chocolate-makers, Trippant talks generative AI, and more. 


Formula 1 still driving for growth

The world’s premier motorsport series is back. And while there may be six sprint races in 2024, Formula 1 is set for a marathon season. 

With 24 Grands Prix between now and early December, this is the longest campaign in F1 history, the culmination of owner Liberty Media’s push to globalise its appeal and maximise live inventory. There are no new venues but the Chinese Grand Prix returns for the first time since 2019 as that host nation continues to replenish its post-Covid sports events calendar (see more below). 

There is also an unfamiliar race day as well – the opening two Grands Prix, in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, have been brought forward to Saturdays to account for the start of Ramadan on Sunday 10th March.

It is not clear how much further the schedule can expand but away from the track, F1 is deep into its transformation into a multi-platform spectacle. The genre-defining Drive To Survive is now entering its sixth season on Netflix, while fans were treated this week to the trailer of the F1 2024 video game, which has been published by market leader EA Sports since it bought Codemasters in 2021. 

All that activity helped lift F1’s revenues 25 per cent to $3.2 billion last year. But there are still challenges ahead for the series after a winter break that brimmed with intrigue. 

Despite the cloud lingering over team principal Christian Horner, a strong showing by Red Bull in testing has suggested another year of dominance for Max Verstappen – whose lack of serious competition could check the medium-term growth of viewing figures. With Lewis Hamilton in his final year at Mercedes before a leap to Ferrari, it may be another 12 months before the challenge from the field is reignited.

Back in January, celebrated US motorsport outfit Andretti Global failed in their bid to become the 11th team on the grid but the championship will continue to seek ways to extend its influence and storytelling potential. The F1 Academy, a feeder series designed to get more female drivers into the elite, has attracted sponsorship from brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Puma and Charlotte Tilbury.


The Recap

The South China Morning Post on China’s return to international sport

After an extended Covid shutdown and a controversial Winter Olympics in 2022, China is ready to embrace international sport once more. 

Leagues, teams and federations are ramping efforts back up in the world’s second-biggest economy, while the 2027 World Athletics Championships has now joined the 2029 World Aquatics Championships on the list of upcoming global events in the country.  


The Guardian on Saudi Arabia’s ATP tennis partnership

Following months of speculation about a golf-style takeover attempt in tennis, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has announced a more limited but still significant move – a multi-year ‘strategic partnership’ with the men’s ATP Tour. 

PIF branding will appear at top-tier ATP events while the fund will also engage with the tour’s OneVision Strategic Plan, potentially setting the scene for deeper involvement and a Saudi-based tournament in the future. 


Bloomberg on the end of the Apple car

Apple has reportedly shuttered one of the most radical projects in its recent history – a closely guarded plan to develop a self-driving car. 

Instead, in what may prove a consequential move, many of the project’s roughly 2,000 staff will now be asked to help the company accelerate its programme in generative AI.


The Financial Times talks OnlyFans

Last July, Kelly Blair took over as CEO of creator-subscription video service OnlyFans, which hit $1 billion in revenue in 2023. To continue that growth, she aims to keep diversifying the user base, but she also intends to stand by those who have built the platform’s success with their spicier content.


The Drum on Heineken’s alcohol-free marketing strategy

While Dry January is a distant memory for some, the alcohol-free and low-alcohol beer sector is now very much a year-round fixture. And brewing giant Heineken’s outsized marketing commitment underlines the long-term strategic importance of converting drinkers and non-drinkers alike. 


Venture Beat on layoffs at EA

The video games industry looks set for more painful reorganisation in 2024: leading publisher EA has now confirmed a five per cent cut to its workforce, amounting to around 670 layoffs, while it has also cancelled an upcoming Star Wars game and will scale back on other licensed titles.


Wired on Gemini’s ‘anti-woke’ AI misadventure

Generative AI has quickly developed a terrible reputation for racial bias so when Google iterated its Gemini platform, it sought to address those concerns. Yet some of the more awkward results have prompted criticism, a right-wing backlash, and a pause in the tool’s ability to create images of real people. 


The BBC on a chocolate-coated colour dispute

A campaign by Tony’s highlighting malpractice among other chocolate-makers has drawn legal action from Mondelez – not for its content, but the use of Milka’s trademark shade of purple in its packaging. Tony’s has responded by posting a greyed-out image on LinkedIn. 

But colour can be big business. In that spirit, Pinterest has launched a palette guide for companies looking to create on-trend branding in the months ahead.


Fast Company overdoses on TikTok news

What happens when you only get your news from TikTok? Fast Company writer Joe Berkowitz spent a week finding out, in a process that revealed a surprising amount about the platform’s wider strengths and weaknesses.


From Trippant

The art of communication in the age of generative AI

Last month’s unveiling of the Sora text-to-video generator was another reminder of just how fast generative artificial intelligence is moving. 

For those of us in communications, media and PR, that prospect is both exciting and terrifying. But as Trippant’s own Tom Scott writes in SportsPro, the fundamentals still matter: like building trust, connecting to people, and telling great stories. 


Setting the terms for your vision

Communication is about discipline: if you want people to understand your company, you need to have a strong sense of your identity, your vision, and the most effective use of your voice. 

Trippant champions people and storytelling to grow businesses across sport, entertainment and experience. If you want to see what we can do for you, connect with us here.

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