Let’s Write the Future – ABB & Formula E

Through 2018-19 and 2019-20, Swiss engineering brand ABB activated its Formula E title sponsorship through an international programme of local race-relevant digital, social content, at-race events, entertainment and experiences for local B2B targets.

Territory: Global

Agency: Serviceplan Suisse

Other organisations: Aardvark


ABB’s 10-year Formula E title sponsorship was designed to help quickly grow the company’s Electrification Products division and help its shift perceptions of it as an old-school industrial giant.

For the second and third years of its partnership, ABB briefed Serviceplan to continue its global marketing campaign – ultimately, a business-to-business activation seeking to change perceptions of what research suggested was seen as a slow-moving conglomerate in the eyes of key B2B decision makers – targeting two key groups:

  • Public officials and infrastructure providers in cities
  • Manufacturers of mobility solutions.


Serviceplan’s multi-year campaign was based on the insight that, while an entirely electric future is an exciting vision, a vision alone won’t create buzz without something tangible to put it into perspective.

As electrification is largely invisible, the agency’s idea was to showcase ‘the power and excitement of electrification in a new and compelling way’ to attract the attention of multiple target groups in the places where ABB’s products are needed – the middle of the world’s biggest cities.

As Formula E is a global, multi-race series held in major cities, the agency chose to create a flexible campaign that could drive home messages tailored to specific geographies and different sub-groups, and which involved local politicians and industry leaders in the organisation and execution of the various race-linked events.

The agency created a vast set of host-city specific key visuals and animations for each race, both for its online platforms and its at-event branded spaces, which highlighted the urban and international aspects of the championship and presented the brand’s vision for the cities of the future.

ABB invited existing clients, potential customers and public officials to attend each race weekend in its exclusive ‘ABB Race Suite’.

At each race, guests were also invited to participate in or attend the ‘ABB Technology Forum’ (a panel discussion gathering key opinion leaders and players in the field of mobility and electrification), as well as take part in pit lane walks, a gala dinner and ‘ABB Tech Talks’ with drivers and mechanics. ABB products and services were exhibited at races, in the Race Suites for B2B targets and trackside for fans.

A more in depth strand of the activation saw Serviceplan work with agency Aardvark to create the ‘ABB Formula E VIP Global Event Series’, a three-day VIP customer experience throughout cities in Europe, Asia and North America.


Key results from the first year of the activation programme (2018-19) showed:

  • A 21.1-per-cent increase in ABB’s brand value (+30.5% and +26% when measured against rivals GE and Siemens respectively)
  • ABB gained 28 places in the Brand Finance 2018 Global 500 report
  • ABB’s brand reputation increased four per cent in the 2018 Ipsos Brand Reputation & Activation Study (placing it second in the overall ranking) and nine per cent in the ‘Digital Competence’ category
  • The partnership had generated more than 6,600 articles in target-group relevant media, and 104,000 external social media mentions.
  • A 17-per-cent increase in order volume for ABB electrification products.