Before he entered the world of marketing, A Brave New’s Content Director Brad Steinbacher spent 14 years as a journalist and editor at Seattle’s leading alternative newspaper The Stranger. His marketing work has included creating content for Fortune 500 companies, political campaigns, and penning opinion pieces for former members of Congress and professional sports stars. At A Brave New, Brad guides and oversees all content for clients, ensuring brand guidelines and voices are followed, and generating new ideas for content delivery. In his free time, Brad enjoys sports, playing video games, and pretending that he’s not actually middle-aged.
What you’ll learn about in this episode:
- Josh & Brad’s thoughts about F1 preseason testing
- Which brands Josh & Brad think each Formula 1 team most resembles
- Various free-form thoughts about Netflix’s Drive To Survive
- Which F1 team most resembles Texas Instruments as a brand
- Drive To Survive
- Current F1 Driver Standings
- Josh Dougherty on LinkedIn
- Brad Steinbacher on LinkedIn
- A Brave New’s Website
Josh Dougherty: All right, welcome to the show today. Today we have a special treat. We're going to focus on F1. I have, to help me in that task, our content director, Brad Steinbacher, here with me again, a frequent guest on the show. Hey, Brad. Welcome back.
Brad Steinbacher: Hey, this is going to be fun.
Josh Dougherty: Yeah, I'm excited. So we're recording the week after pre-season testing. I think this will come out a little bit after the first week. So we'll see if our conversation rings true to people. But we thought we'd do something today that's a little bit different than what we've done in the past and all about just, I think, thinking about brands differently.
Formula One, we're both fans of it. It's like the brandiest of brand sports, maybe other than cycling. It's all about the glitz, the glamor. You've got brands painted all over the cars. But we thought, "Why not take that a step further and think about what brands, that they don't have painted on their cars, might each team like?" So today we're going to walk you through, for each of the Formula One teams, which brand we would associate them with and why, just to have a conversation, stretch our brains a little bit, see if there's any creative ideas that come out. Brad, I'd love to hear about your process as you were doing this. Any people you were stumped on? Don't give away who you chose yet maybe, but any of the teams that you really had a hard time matching up with another brand?
Brad Steinbacher: Probably Williams was the hardest one, and it's probably the one where I went off the rails. But yeah, that was the one that stood out as a challenge, because it's a bland name and kind of a bland brand.
Josh Dougherty: Bland most things.
Brad Steinbacher: But yeah, all in all, I think I found some ones that are good matches.
Josh Dougherty: Nice. What were your thoughts about pre-season testing this last weekend? Did you get to watch any?
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah, I watched a bunch of it. It's exciting when it starts and then about an hour in, you're like, "What am I doing? I'm not really gaining any information here."
Josh Dougherty: I had the same feeling.
Brad Steinbacher: But the first race is this weekend. I'm really excited.
Josh Dougherty: Yeah. We'll be back in the drama this weekend. It'll be good. Cool. Well, let's dive in and talk first. Maybe we can go first with Red Bull, last year's champions. I'd love to hear who you think of Red Bull, which is great that we're starting with them because it is the brandiest of teams in general.
Brad Steinbacher: It is, exactly. Exactly.
Josh Dougherty: So who do you have for Red Bull?
Brad Steinbacher: For Red Bull, I have Microsoft, in that they're ubiquitous, they're everywhere, they have their big fans, they have a lot of people who don't like them, just like a lot of people don't like the Red Bull team and the drink, for that matter. And they can be bullies, just like Microsoft can be in the market.
Josh Dougherty: Nice.
Brad Steinbacher: So that was my choice. What about you?
Josh Dougherty: I had Amazon. Similar reasons. So I think of Red Bull as being really strong, and you think of Christian Horner specifically. If anyone watches Drive to Survive, even though they're the top team the last three years, I don't know, he still acts like he has a chip on his shoulder and everyone's still out to get him and they're not the best. They like to position themselves as this challenger when they're really the leader. And then the other reason I chose Amazon is because I kind of don't love Amazon, even though I end up purchasing a lot of things from Amazon. And I think Amazon's really data-driven but evil. And I think Red Bull's the same way. So that's really my takeaway. It seemed like a shoe-in for me.
Brad Steinbacher: Well, I mean, Max Verstappen is a Bond villain.
Josh Dougherty: Yes.
Brad Steinbacher: So that's a good fit.
Josh Dougherty: I started watching the latest Drive to Survive this weekend, and I was laughing because Max is back because, apparently, him not participating in the show didn't help rehabilitate his reputation.
Brad Steinbacher: No, the complete opposite, actually.
Josh Dougherty: People still see him as an asshole. Exactly.
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah. If you're listening to this, do yourself a favor and Google Max Verstappen's private plane, and you'll see the Bond villain reference. It's pretty great. You want to do Ferrari next?
Josh Dougherty: Yeah, let's talk about Ferrari.
Brad Steinbacher: Ferrari-
Josh Dougherty: These are your boys, right?
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah, they started out strong last year. And then it actually plays into my brand thing, which I compared them to Nintendo. In that they're iconic, they have great characters, but their strategy can be very baffling. Like, if you play video games and the whole online competitiveness and playing with other people online, Nintendo continually bungles that. And it's just not really what they're interested in. And I don't think Ferrari, at least last year, was very interested in strategy and a coherent strategy. So that's why-
Josh Dougherty: Well, they had a strategy. It's kind of launching a week. It's a strategy. We haven't done anything for seven years. Why don't we launch this gaming system no one's going to use?
Brad Steinbacher: Right. But yeah, they have a very fast car this year. When they get it right, they get it right, like Nintendo did with their switch console. They have it in them to be the number one, so that was mine. What about you?
Josh Dougherty: This is going to seem kind of mean, but I think they're Twitter.
Brad Steinbacher: Oh.
Josh Dougherty: Kind of pre ... Okay, the reason I think of it, same thing, flashy, stylish, iconic. And I think Twitter before the Elon Musk takeover was that for social media, for a lot of us who have been using it for a long time, but some people hate it as well because of its iconic place. And as Elon Musk took over, and I think a little bit before that as well, just the unforced errors to make the platform horrible. You think about how great it was at the beginning when it was this 140 character thing. You couldn't really be verbose. You couldn't have long communication. And then they're like, you know what? We're going to take that away because it's the worst. It's the best thing about this platform, so let's not do it.
And then the other thing was when they got rid of the chronological timeline, which was great when everyone had gone to algorithms. And then they're like, you know what we should do, let's get rid of chronology. Another reason why everyone loves us. And I think that's a little like Ferrari. Such a good concept. So iconic. But then they leave their drivers out to drive on old tires all the time because yeah, why not?
Brad Steinbacher: Or don't pit stop when they should be, and they end up losing. Poor La Claire. Maybe he'll win Monte Carlo this year, but I'm not holding my breath.
Josh Dougherty: I think he'll wreck his car in qualifying. This is my guess. He wants it too bad, right?
Brad Steinbacher: Exactly. Next I have for Mercedes, which in some ways is the dullest of the brands there, I feel. I just went with Apple. High end, dependable, innovative, and when they make mistakes like they did last year with the porpoising, they can recover from it as they did toward the end of the year, they started getting there. I thought about the Apple Newton, I don't know if you remember that.
Josh Dougherty: Yes.
Brad Steinbacher: That was a really cool thing, but just landed with a thud. So they compared with Mercedes could be pretty good.
Josh Dougherty: I had the exact same thing.
Brad Steinbacher: Oh, nice.
Josh Dougherty: The only thing I would add to your stuff, which I agree with all of it, is Apple has had this thing just like Red Bull, where Red Bull's like, "Oh, we're not the best. We have this chip on our shoulder about it." I think Apple isn't necessarily the best at everything anymore, but they've maintained this really good veneer of, "We are the classiest", at least. And I think you have the same with Mercedes. The other thing that I think is interesting, which is hard to see because I love Toto Wolf so much, is I think they're just as evil as Red Bull, just with a nicer exterior. So they're just as dialed in, cutthroat, willing to cut corners, et cetera, but they make it look damn good while they're doing it all the time.
Brad Steinbacher: Exactly.
Josh Dougherty: And then you have Lewis Hamilton playing his PR game, which I think he's brilliant at.
Brad Steinbacher: He is.
Josh Dougherty: Being controversial and speaking his mind at the same time and having everyone love him.
Brad Steinbacher: And the iPhone changed everything. Lewis Hamilton changed everything.
Josh Dougherty: That's true.
Brad Steinbacher: At least, especially for Mercedes. What is it, seven championships in a row?
Josh Dougherty: Yep. Now the one thing I can't get by is George Russell's eyes. He has the best-
Brad Steinbacher: He looks like an animated character.
Josh Dougherty: That's what I would say. It's like everything is like, this is picture perfect. How are you a real person?
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah. Do you want to do Alpine next?
Josh Dougherty: Yeah, let's talk about Alpine.
Brad Steinbacher: Alpine. This is kind of mean. I did Haines t-shirts.
Josh Dougherty: That's good.
Brad Steinbacher: Because they're fine. They're not great. They're, you know, just like Alpine. Although they are getting better as a team. They hade a pretty good card last year and I think this year, but I only really think of them on race day like I only think of Haines when I run out of t-shirts. That's basically all the thought I put into it. When they were Renault, I felt like they were more iconic.
Josh Dougherty: I did too.
Brad Steinbacher: But now Alpine, it's like, what a terrible name.
Josh Dougherty: Yeah, you combine that with the pink, the BWT pink. It's just, it's tough.
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah, it's a rough one, but they're on the rise. So maybe Haines is ripe for a comeback.
Josh Dougherty: I had a similar brand that is maybe not that exciting but really a workhorse, which is Lenovo. So I was thinking, they're fine computers, but they're just fine. They have decent performance. They had those, they were building the computer slash tablet for a long time that had some cool features, just the kind of cool bright pink of Alpine. But it's fine. The colors don't make it amazing, and there's not really any excitement about it. But then they're sneaky too.
Brad Steinbacher: Better than Acer.
Josh Dougherty: Yeah, exactly. Better than Acer. There's a tagline you want to have for your brand, right? But I think also, Lenovo was one of the biggest sellers of laptops in the world, similar to Alpine. Because they finished fourth last year, right?
Brad Steinbacher: Yep.
Josh Dougherty: They're at the very top of the midfield. So you don't think about them, but somehow they're doing something right.
Brad Steinbacher: Exactly.
Josh Dougherty: Although I am wondering how much of that was Fernando Alonso and his wiliness. So now that he's gone, we'll see what happens.
Brad Steinbacher: Well they have Pierre Gasly now, and I like him.
Josh Dougherty: That's my boy. He's my favorite driver, and it pains me that I will be paying a lot of attention to Alpine this year.
Brad Steinbacher: It's like somebody makes you work on a Lenovo computer forever.
Josh Dougherty: Exactly. Exactly.
Brad Steinbacher: For McLaren, I have the CBS network. They have a lot of money, but products are just fine. Lando Norris is like March Madness, which airs on CBS every year. And he gets you really excited, briefly, during the year, and then he just kind of disappears again a lot of the time, which is kind of unfair to McLaren, but this is how they feel. As much as I love Lando Norris, he'll make a podium once, maybe twice a year, and then they're just kind of mired in mediocrity the rest of the time.
Josh Dougherty: And I feel like he's fighting against this car. You look at, they used to have such fast cars, and now he's just struggling to get up and it takes him till the 15th race to have something that is actually exactly functional.
Brad Steinbacher: And CBS used to have really exciting shows when I was a kid, but now it's all procedurals and the mainstay 60 Minutes.
Josh Dougherty: What was the top childhood CBS show of Brad Steinbacher?
Brad Steinbacher: Oh my God, you're putting me on the spot. They all kind of blend together, but I remember watching the network, but NBC was always the leader of the pack there.
Josh Dougherty: Yeah, I had for McLaren, I had Microsoft. So you chose them for Red Bull?
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah.
Josh Dougherty: I had them for McLaren because they're, I feel like, trying to be in the top tier where they used to be, but maybe are not quite. Now, all the Microsoft people will come after me after this call and tell me they're still in the top tier.
Brad Steinbacher: But not for what they used to be known for.
Josh Dougherty: Yeah. Not for what they used to be. Also, ubiquitous and always there, but always not quite perfect. It's always kind of clunky.
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah, their software is overwritten, the McLaren car is too heavy.
Josh Dougherty: They have something that's kind of sexy in Lando Norris as a driver, and then you've got Daniel Ricciardo stinking it up in 19th place for much of last year. And then I think the other thing that makes me think of Microsoft is Satya Nadella, as he's taken over, they're really trying to reinvent themselves and be great again. And I do think Zak Brown, as he's taking over that team is trying to reinvent what McLaren is and bring back that former glory. I don't think he's really landed it yet, but it's a process, right?
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah.
Josh Dougherty: He's certainly made a bunch of fans.
Brad Steinbacher: He's made a bunch of fans. They have Fernando now. That's going to help at least or increase their number of crashes they have every year. Yeah, I like that. That's a good one.
Josh Dougherty: Speaking of crashes, let's talk about Haas. Haas F1, for me, I kind of love Haas and the train wreck that Haas is every year. So fast, powerful, especially after they invested so much in the car, in the redesign last year. They had so much speed. They're always trying to do it their own way, but they're not really super successful at doing it. So I liken them to DuckDuckGo the search engine.
Brad Steinbacher: Oh, all right.
Josh Dougherty: Kind of a solid product. It's powerful but doesn't really catch on. People, it's always hanging out in the kind of the background.
Brad Steinbacher: Has great fans.
Josh Dougherty: They're trying to convince people they're amazing. They've got a few rabid fans. They're like, we're not going to do it like everyone else, but we're going to become ubiquitous as our own thing. But let's be honest, they probably never are. Unless privacy becomes really important. I think Haas is similar. And then when you try to use it, I don't know if you've ever done this, but I tried to, six months ago or a year ago, I was trying to increase the security on my iPhone. So I started using DuckDuckGo for a little bit. And just like Haas crashes a lot, DuckDuckGo fails a lot when you're searching. I lasted about three days, and then I went back to Google and said, you know what, I'll sell my data soul to have a phone that actually works.
Brad Steinbacher: Wow. That's a good one. That's a good match. I went with John Deere. Haas is an American car, American company, American team. They're always around, but they're never really something you think about if you live in the city. Outside of race day, I never think of Haas in any capacity.
Josh Dougherty: Totally.
Brad Steinbacher: I mean, I don't even know what they do. They create equipment supplies, is that what it is?
Josh Dougherty: I have no idea what they do here.
Brad Steinbacher: Tools manufacturer or something. So yeah, they felt John Deere to me.
Josh Dougherty: Yeah, I like it. What about Aston Martin? I think that's the big challenger team for this year, right? They're supposed to challenge the big kids.
Brad Steinbacher: Yep, that's what they're talking about. I went with Wendy's because they're a well-known brand but not as popular as McDonald's or Burger King. And so they're not as popular as Red Bull and Ferrari and Mercedes, but they're in that same realm, just not quite there.
Josh Dougherty: I thought about them as, so I had all tech brands, so I'll continue my tech brand trend, but I thought about them as Dell. Old talent. They have a long legacy. Aston Martin cars have been known for their luxury for so long, but they're a bit out of style now. You don't see a lot of Aston Martins driving around, just like Dells. They still have a ton of resources and are able to make a splash, but no one thinks about them even though they are probably powering the Zoom call that we're doing right now.
Brad Steinbacher: Exactly.
Josh Dougherty: So at the end of the day, people assume they can't perform, but I think they're like Dell, they’re big players still. They sell a ton of infrastructure. They're probably the biggest laptop sales organization in the world as well. So people think they're not big players anymore, but they're wrong. They are. And I think that'll be, I don't know, my prediction is, I think that'll be the same for Aston Martin this year. They finally seem like they will be challenging, although maybe they stole all their designs from another team.
Brad Steinbacher: Could be. Was I wrong, did Fernando go to Aston Martin and not McLaren?
Josh Dougherty: Fernando went to Aston Martin.
Brad Steinbacher: Oh, that's right. McLaren, the stolen one.
Josh Dougherty: Yes.
Brad Steinbacher: I had, do you want to do Alpha next?
Josh Dougherty: Yeah, let's do it.
Brad Steinbacher: I have Old Navy. They're not quite a big name like Gap or Ferrari. Quality is somewhat shoddy, but occasionally they make a splash, like signing Bottas or the back to school advertising blitz that Old Navy does every year.
Josh Dougherty: Yeah. Peak Bottas right now is so good on Instagram.
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah, very happy for him.
Josh Dougherty: His mullet game is strong, which is kind of similar to, I had AOL as Alpha.
Brad Steinbacher: Oh. That's meanest one we've done yet.
Josh Dougherty: I know. So mean. They look, well, this is the part that isn't true. Alpha cars look fucking amazing still.
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah, I love them.
Josh Dougherty: They look really good, but they have some history, but they're kind of a shit show. But everyone looks back on them kindly, at least from my generation, I look back on that AOL CD, I was like, "Oh yeah, when the internet started, that was awesome." Now I'm dating myself for anyone who's listening to this who is a true millennial, but you missed out on putting a CD in to get onto the internet.
Brad Steinbacher: And there was a whole movie made about the term :you've got mail.”
Josh Dougherty: Exactly. But yeah, I'd say that's who Alpha is. But I think it is a little unfair because Alpha is, even though they kind of suck, they are very stylish. They look good while they're sucking.
Brad Steinbacher: Yes, very true. For AlphaTauri I had, it's kind of the easiest one I did. If Red Bull is Microsoft, AlphaTauri is the Xbox.
Josh Dougherty: Okay.
Brad Steinbacher: It's the Xbox gaming thing. They're second place in their market or maybe even third place. They're fine, but they're just not as powerful or as ... They're the definition of middle of the pack, I feel.
Josh Dougherty: I had a similar thing for AlphaTauri, where I chose them as, I had two that I was going back and forth about. One I think is meaner and one is more maybe accurate, but people won't associate. So the meaner one is, I thought of eBay. They're like the less effective e-commerce to Amazon. They're lovable but not dominant.
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah, similar thoughts.
Josh Dougherty: Their features are repeated by others, but they're like, we're still doing this, why not? And then the other one I thought of that maybe is more apropos, because I don't think AlphaTauri is as out-dated as maybe eBay is in 2023, is like Walmart e-commerce, which competes with Amazon a lot but none of us think about. They're like the second-biggest e-commerce seller. They again, just are copying everything that Amazon does, but not quite as well.
Brad Steinbacher: Oh, those are both really good. I like that. And that leaves us with Williams. I'll let you go first on Williams because mine is a little weird.
Josh Dougherty: So I had all technology companies. I think this is technically still a technology company, but I struggled with this. I said Texas Instruments, the maker of the calculator.
Brad Steinbacher: That's good.
Josh Dougherty: They were once the greatest. Lots of pedigree. They're still a player. Not noticed, but still a lot of kids use them in school. In many ways, they're where everything started from the sport. Now I know Ferrari's probably where everything started with F1, but they're one of those originals. But now they disappear like a budget option. The core is still solid, but the world's passed it by, and I think that's how Williams will be in perpetuity, unless they get some new ownership, which will probably take away the magic of the brand.
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah, I mean there's a lot to love about Williams and they brought on Logan Sargeant, who I'm hopeful for. He might surprise some people in some races. For mine, I said they are a Grey Poupon Mustard and that they've been around forever. They were once notable, remember the eighties ads with the limo?
Josh Dougherty: Oh yeah.
Brad Steinbacher: And pardon me, they were like, but now you maybe buy it. You maybe use it now then, but there's a lot more options out there for that type of mustard. So that's where I went with poor Williams.
Josh Dougherty: I like that analogy because now it's like, Gray Poupon was cool before there were any craft options, but now there's like, yeah, 27 different options similar.
Brad Steinbacher: Exactly. But you have fond memories of those commercials if you're my age, and people have fond memories of Williams. So yeah, that wasn't too brutal to the teams.
Josh Dougherty: I don't think so. I felt bad about making anyone, making Ferrari be somewhat associated with Elon Musk, but that's all I can do.
Brad Steinbacher: But it does fit. They were, Facebook was square, Twitter was where all the celebrities and the sports stars were at and the news people, so that makes a lot of sense.
Josh Dougherty: So I'd love to get some random predictions as we kind of close out. Who do you think is going to ... I guess we should say what's the top three order going to be? Because I think everyone kind of knows who's going to finish at the top, potentially.
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah. I feel it's going to be Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes, but Ferrari and Mercedes may switch around.
Josh Dougherty: Okay.
Brad Steinbacher: I think it's going to be that predictable. I'd love to see Alpine get up there or McLaren too, really, and to steal some races, but I feel like Red Bull's just going to come out of the gate and just take the thing.
Josh Dougherty: Yeah, I agree with that. So I think Red Bull is a shoe in. I would say, I think, Ferrari next. I'm going to go off on a limb and say, I think Aston Martin's going to finish third.
Brad Steinbacher: Oh wow. All right.
Josh Dougherty: We'll see.
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah, I can see that.
Josh Dougherty: I don't know if that's a good call, but I just want some drama.
Brad Steinbacher: Yes. Yeah, I mean the first half of the last season was so great and then it just-
Josh Dougherty: Yeah. Probably shouldn't bet against Mercedes.
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah, you shouldn't bet against Mercedes, and they all cheat, but Red Bull got caught. So makes it even easier to despise them this year.
Josh Dougherty: Yep. So who's going to finish last?
Brad Steinbacher: Probably Williams or Haas? I would say probably Williams. I think Haas has the more seasoned, better drivers.
Josh Dougherty: I agree. I think Williams’ car is going to be down by a mile.
Brad Steinbacher: Terrible. Yeah, I don't know what's going to get Williams out of the cellar, but I don't know.
Josh Dougherty: New investment. Did they get bought a couple years ago though? They did give up their family ownership.
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah. They're owned by an investment group now, and a lot of good that's done them. Logan Sargeant, first American driver in a long time.
Josh Dougherty: Yeah. That's going to be cool.
Brad Steinbacher: And he has a great name.
Josh Dougherty: For sure. Who's going to be the breakout driver in your perspective this year?
Brad Steinbacher: Well, this Oscar kid might be an interesting one to watch, but I feel like Gasly's going to have a good year. He is in a better car now. Better team. He's won before. I mean, it took half the field breaking down for him to win, but he still did it.
Josh Dougherty: He had a ton of, not top fives, but sixth or seventh place finishes in a pretty bad car.
Brad Steinbacher: But he was, you know, booted from Red Bull, and I think that still stings him, so he wants to be like, get back in there. What about you?
Josh Dougherty: I think Piastri is the one I would bet on just as a ... And I don't know, I hadn't thought, because I think of Gasly being so established, I don't think of him performing well as being a breakout moment, but if I had to choose the initial kids, but the McLaren car didn't look very good. So we'll see how quickly that comes along.
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah. And I think it's not his break, I think that was last year, but George Russell I think is going to have a really good year. I think Mercedes figured a lot of stuff out and I think, I feel like they're doing their usual, "We're slower everybody," but come the start of the season, they're going to be right back in it.
Josh Dougherty: And they definitely weren't struggling with the technical things that they were struggling with last year.
Brad Steinbacher: Yeah. The porpoising was ridiculous, especially for Mercedes.
Josh Dougherty: So we shall see.
Brad Steinbacher: Well, this was fun. We should do it again next year, or we can pick a different league.
Josh Dougherty: It's true. Midyear check-in too of how bad my call of having Aston Martin finish third is going to be, because I think it's going to be a bad call already, but I'll stick with it now that I made it.
Brad Steinbacher: Well, you never know. I mean, one or two engines blow up and Red Bull can find themselves behind and having to come back.
Josh Dougherty: We can only hope.
Brad Steinbacher: We can only hope.
Josh Dougherty: Well, we'll be back next week or next time with some more on brand conversation, but it might not be as fun. So we'll make sure we do this again in the near future. Thanks for coming on, Brad.
Brad Steinbacher: Thanks for having me.