McLaren Racing has announced a new agreement with Seamless Digital, which will see digital advertising technology added to their Formula 1 cars from the United States Grand Prix.
The collaboration will bring advertising to life by giving the ability to change the branding on the cars across a race weekend – a first for Formula 1. The dynamic panels will be fitted onto the McLaren cars and run with the technology in Friday practice sessions for the remainder of the season.
From a sponsorship and advertising perspective, this technology is a game-changer. It will enable more creative options for messages and logos – after all, it won’t just be a sticker now.
It also provides the opportunity for brands to come onboard at an advertising level, where they could pay for visibility during a period of time, say five laps, and that’s all the relationship entails. This gives brands the opportunity to step into F1 at a cheaper price than sponsorship as it is just a singular right.
Using a paper-like display, similar to a kindle, the panel blends into the bodywork and will appear like any other logo. However, given its commercial gains, it still needs to mould itself to the F1 environment – so weight is a key issue. The set-up in Austin weighs in at around 190g (less than three eggs), but this may change in the future.
The panels are fitted in sections along either side of the cockpit and on the driver’s helmet, meaning they are visible from onboard cameras – a sponsor’s dream!
Although not new to the sport, the launch demonstrates a glimpse into the future of marketing and sponsorship within F1, allowing a unique scope for teams to run with several different brands throughout a race weekend.
It opens up an entirely new revenue stream for the team too, as they will be targeting a whole new set of brands that are enticed by the lower-cost advertising route as opposed to the commitment of a more expensive longer-term sponsorship.
Who knows where this technology will go in the future. We may start to see the panels using colour or become larger. McLaren is looking to use the same system for its other racing activities like IndyCar, Extreme E and Formula E. We may also see other teams in the paddock adopt the same technology for their cars as well.
The panels may also help teams remove sponsor logos banned in certain countries, such as tobacco companies, as well as update logos to suit local markets.
One thing is for sure; the panels are leading the way in technology that sponsors and brands will want to utilise.