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Infiniti Engineering Academy – Infiniti Motor Company & Renault F1

(Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The Infiniti Engineering Academy – Infiniti’s global search for bright engineering talent – was created with the Renault F1 team to connect the Infiniti brand with its customers and a global Formula 1 fan audience.

Leveraging its expertise in electrified performance powertrains (which were introduced in Formula 1 in 2014), Infiniti decided to become an active participant in Formula 1 and, in 2016, became Technical Partner to Renault F1 Team.

Infiniti contributes engineers and expertise to Renault F1 Team for the co-development of the power unit’s energy recovery system (ERS), one of the most sophisticated technologies in motorsport.

The technical partnership also spans the highly successful Infiniti Engineering Academy, and the acclaimed Project Black S, which features technology inspired by Formula One.

Now in its sixth successive year, the Academy offers young engineers from all over the world a once in a lifetime opportunity to secure a 12-month paid work placement in the motorsport and premium automotive industries (working with Renault F1 Team for six months and with Infiniti for another six months), learn from leading engineers and play an active role in Infiniti’s technical partnership with Renault F1 Team.

Territory: Global

Agency: Prism Sport + Entertainment

Objectives

Awareness was the brand’s overriding business need for the sponsorship deal

The target audience (by geography, demography, income, platform et cetera) was:

  • US, China, Canada and Middle East
  • Progressive Challengers (future market) – 35-44-year-olds, Infiniti affinity
  • Life-stage triggers (near market) – recently married, job promotion, moved home

Activation

Infiniti asked Prism to create a marketing platform that could deliver an authentic connection between the Infiniti brand, its customers and a global F1 fan audience. In response to this brief, Prism created the Infiniti Engineering Academy – Infiniti’s global search for bright engineering talent.

Prism delivers all elements of the programme from planning, strategy, recruitment, marketing, PR, social media, channel management and content creation, to logistics, media relations, event delivery, winner relocation services and placement management. Prism’s role is also to ensure the programme’s longevity by growing awareness and participation.

In 2018 the programme received more than 12,000 registrations, with only seven candidates chosen via a multi-stage recruitment process.

From all the applications received in every region (US, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Middle East, China, Asia and Oceania) and following a series of tests and interviews, only the ten best candidates are then selected and invited to participate in their regional final.

During these seven final events, the ten finalists in each region need to tackle numerous tests, including an engineering exam, one-to-one interviews with the judges, a dragster car build, challenges especially designed for the occasion by Renault F1 Team and partners, and facing the media in a tough Q&A session where journalists from different industries evaluate their communication skills and their potential to become an ambassador of the programme.

A panel including judges from Infiniti, Renault F1 Team and decision science experts from Harvard University evaluate the finalists throughout and decide who the worthiest winner is in each final, which results in seven winners from around the globe (one per final event) at the end of the process.

These winners will have a personal mentor overseeing their professional career development as they progress through their 12-month placement, split between Infiniti s Technical Center Europe and the Renault F1 Team’s base in the UK.

To keep the competition fresh, IEA partnered Formula 1 for the 2018 and 2019 editions to host a number of academy finals at Grands Prix in core international markets.

IEA also partnered with the Kennedy Business School at Harvard University, Pirelli, BP Castrol and Perkin Elmer to add a series of engineering and decision science challenges into each final to deepen the competition’s credibility and to broaden the Engineering Academy story.

To further drive awareness and participation Prism created an overarching campaign theme, ‘Engineered Differently’, at the start of 2019. It acted as the lens through which Prism looked at each communication during the three core phases of the IEA – Recruitment, Finals, Placement.

Approach:

  • Infiniti is a forward-thinking brand at the forefront of engineering and new automotive technology.
  • The brand also has a team of talented individuals who see things differently and look to challenge the status quo.
  • IEA is the epitome of this challenger spirit.
  • It’s about what engineering students can achieve for themselves through the role in the short term and in their career.

Concept:

  • The programme encourages candidates to think differently. They’re exposed to difficult situations from the outset, and to be successful they must be willing to approach tasks in a unique and sometimes unorthodox manner.
  • Infiniti’s candidates should understand the luxury ethos of the brand.
  • Infiniti wants candidates who also approach engineering in a contemporary and unique fashion.
  • Infiniti wants to find engineers who are doers and problem solvers and who want to be at the pinnacle of engineering.

Outcome

The programme has grown year-on-year from 1,200 registrations in 2014 to a record number of 12,000+ candidates registering for the IEA competition in 2018 – an increase rate in applications of over 900 per cent through this time period.

The IEA is the most successful technical recruitment initiative of its kind and the only one that offers a placement in both automotive and F1. One of its key pillars is exploring crossover opportunities and the sharing of technology between Infiniti road car and Renault F1 Team race car projects. With this added depth of knowledge transfer and the enhanced scope for collaboration that the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance offers, the Academy will provide an unmatched range of experiences and opportunities to the seven 2019 winners.

The programme has also become a strategic recruitment pipeline for Nissan and Infiniti globally with the opportunity for applicants to be introduced to regional HR teams.

Press coverage of the IEA has increased year on year:

Annual growth of the Infiniti MSport social channel followers has also risen year on year:

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