Formula 1 (F1) has appointed Murray Barnett as its global head of sponsorship and commercial partnerships, as the sport’s new owners look to put in place a new strategic growth plan.
F1 was taken over by US giant Liberty Media earlier this year, with long-time chief Bernie Ecclestone replaced by ex-News Corp executive Chase Carey. Twenty-seven-year ESPN veteran Sean Bratches also joined as managing director, commercial operations.
Barnett is currently chief commercial officer of World Rugby, the world governing body for the rugby union, and formally starts on 25 April.
He brings with him over 20 years of experience in media, marketing and sponsorship worldwide at ESPN and NBA Europe among others to lead the sport’s global sponsor sales division and target new commercial opportunities across all platforms.
“I am delighted to be joining the team at such an exciting time for motorsport,” he said. “Whilst World Rugby has been a fantastic experience, and a growing sport, the prospect of working with Sean Bratches and Chase Carey in developing the commercial aspects of F1 was an opportunity too good for me to pass up.”
Matthew Roberts, meanwhile, will head up F1’s commercial research division from 1 June, looking in-depth at existing markets where the sport has a presence and identifying new marketing and sales opportunities, as well as examining F1’s presence across digital, broadcast and commercial areas.
Roberts, currently head of content insight at Sky, has a strong background in commercial research, having worked for a number of large broadcasters and editorial outlets including ESPN and BT Sport. He has also previously held roles within the commercial insights divisions at Global Radio, News UK and The Mirror newspaper.
“F1 has huge global appeal and is a sport I have long enjoyed following myself,” said Roberts. “I look forward to getting started and looking at what ways we can use data and insights to grow the sport’s footprint across traditional broadcast, print and new digital platforms.”
Both Barnett and Roberts will report to Bratches, who discussed plans to revive F1’s commercial fortunes in January.
“The appointment of Murray and Matthew to lead Formula 1’s commercial partnership and research divisions, respectively, marks an important next step in the evolution of the sport,” commented Bratches.
“There is enormous interest among global brands to align themselves with Formula 1 and Murray is well suited to lead this division, supporting our incumbent partners and broadening the number of sponsors.
“Likewise, we are pivoting to a research driven platform that will inform decisions across the company and there is no one better to lead us in that endeavour than Matt. Both bring a wealth of experience that will serve Formula 1 well and position us for continued growth.”