Formula 1 Finds a New Way to Advertise on Its Cars

When a method to show digital promoting on racecars was pitched to McLaren, staff officers have been involved it was simply a gimmick.

Brand logos are already on automobiles, however this new technique permits groups to present extra advertisements as a result of they seem on panels mounted on the facet of the cockpit and are seen to house viewers due to the tv digital camera put in behind the motive force. The show adjustments, displaying a vary of promoting messages over the course of a Grand Prix weekend.

After seeing the know-how in motion for the primary time, Louise McEwen, govt director of brand name and advertising at McLaren Racing, mentioned she was “blown away.”

“I had to use fairly a lot of creativeness, as a result of it was very a lot in its infancy,” she mentioned in an interview.


“But what got here throughout was not simply the chance that was an absolute first, however as a model, it was one thing that might underline our need to drive innovation on the grid. It’s in our DNA, that Bruce McLaren founding affect.”

The firm behind the know-how is Seamless Digital, based mostly close to Silverstone, the house of the British Grand Prix.

After debuting the know-how on the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, throughout observe final 12 months, McLaren is now utilizing the system throughout total Grand Prix weekends. Seamless mentioned 4 extra Formula 1 groups would use it this season, though the corporate wouldn’t determine them.

Mark Turner, the founder and chief govt, mentioned he “set about attempting to create a system that might be sturdy and genuine.”

“What we did not need was one thing only for the sake of it being there,” he mentioned in an interview. “It’s actually about efficiency, and that was our mind-set by way of and thru. It cannot be detrimental to aerodynamics or weight.”


The preliminary system weighed 350 grams, which was too heavy for a sport wherein added weight impacts efficiency.

A “no go,” McEwen mentioned. “Mark knew that was a problem, however he labored hand in hand with our aerodynamics staff, and in the end we drove the burden down to a level the place we have been good to run it.”

It now weighs 190 grams and is 800 microns, level eight of a millimeter skinny. “We’re utilizing e-paper materials, just like the outer layer of a Kindle, mixed with TFT [thin-film transistor] backing to make it versatile,” Turner mentioned. “It permits us to conform it to the aero floor.

“We are nonetheless attempting to get the burden down as a result of we would like the smallest, lightest doable system that provides the perfect worth to the groups.”

Despite the preliminary success of the system in Texas, McLaren was nonetheless cautious.

“In embedding a piece of know-how like this, there was a danger it might be seen as a gimmick and a distraction for the motive force,” McEwen mentioned.


The promoting messages will be programmed into the system and are seen to TV audiences. Most folks within the stands cannot see the advertisements.

“Keeping it to the motive force’s facet means it will get picked up on the onboard cameras, in order that was type of key,” McEwen mentioned.

“Last 12 months we signed Google,” she mentioned, the one model utilizing McLaren’s new system. “It’s a match made in heaven, with the promoting alternating between their Chrome and Android manufacturers.”

Neither Seamless nor McLaren would say what number of manufacturers could be charged to use the system, though Google was not paying further due to a pre-existing contract with McLaren.

Turner mentioned Seamless would work with a staff to decide what sponsor would seem at any given time.


“At the minute what we’re pushing is situational relevance,” he mentioned, the place “you’ll be able to have a particular message for a particular state the automotive is in, whether or not it is making a pit cease or it is behind the protection automotive.”

The firm hopes to broaden the usage of the know-how, including the panels to golf baggage, as an illustration. “Helmets are the subsequent milestone we’re tackling,” Turner mentioned. “You consider all of the completely different motorsport collection, but in addition you consider the NFL”

For now, Formula 1 is the first focus. “We need to guarantee that through the use of our system,” he mentioned, “a staff can herald cash and put it into automotive growth.”


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