20 Oct Seamless Digital and McLaren Racing bring pioneering digital advertising to Formula 1 cars
WHERE DIGITAL MARKETING MEETS F1 HIGH-PERFORMANCE
Formula 1 runs on two things: innovation and sponsorship. So it’s only right for Seamless Digital to focus on innovation that helps teams create more value for their partners. In developing its new digital advertising solution, Seamless Digital chose to work with McLaren Racing, one of the most iconic and innovative teams in F1. Together, they’re bringing the new technology to the track alongside one of McLaren’s Official Partner that also knows a thing or two about innovation.
ABOUT SEAMLESS DIGITAL
Seamless Digital is a trailblazing spin out business founded by Mark Turner, the CEO of Motorsport Valley-based Silverstone Paint Technology. The highly respected and trusted company already works with 70% of the F1 grid on new paint technologies and high-performance coatings. The new venture looks to change the way brands can reach their audiences through a pioneering digital platform. The patented hardware, and software allows branding to change in real time via triggers activated from the car’s CAN bus system. There are a number of scenarios over a race weekend that the system can recognise and respond accordingly to ensure that what is displayed on the race cars is flexible and situationally relevant.
Formula 1 branding has always been static. Mark and the Seamless Digital team set about looking to solve the problem: can on-car branding be more engaging and effective, delivering more value for both teams and partners?
“We wanted to see whether there was a way to take our expertise in F1 engineered coatings and surfaces, our understanding of premium aesthetics, and our love for the high performance demands of the sport to create something completely new and disrupt the digital advertising industry” says Mark Turner, founder and CEO of Seamless Digital.
Following a period of intense behind the scenes platform development, Seamless Digital approached McLaren for support on how to integrate their digital displays onto a Formula 1 car. Working closely with the aerodynamics and bodywork team, the location for the first panels was decided and integrated into production.
“Testing of the panels started towards the end of the 2021 season and continued through the beginning of 2022,” explains Spencer Busby, Design Engineer at McLaren Racing. “The technology ran as an isolated self-powered installation, mounted on a piece of bodywork, and covered in vinyl so as not to gain attention on-track. The testing allowed us to ensure that the weight of the system was reduced to an absolute minimum, the panels aligned accurately and had no adverse effects on aerodynamics. It was important from the outset the panels didn’t affect other key operational activities of the team”.
“When selecting a location on the car, we wanted to ensure the panels were prominent for TV coverage, while ensuring there was no potential for driver distraction as the panel cycles through partner branding. Multiple locations were considered, but ultimately, we settled on the cockpit sides as this area of the car isn’t impacted by panels being taken on and off repeatedly over race weekends.”
Lightweight: The total mass of the 2-display Seamless Digital system used by McLaren is 190 grams.
Resilient: Seamless Digital and McLaren undertook extensive lab testing, as well as running the system during track sessions on one of the most demanding areas of the F1 car. The system in testing ran flawlessly.
Aerodynamic: The integrated hardware conforms to the shape of the existing surface with no step between the transition, resulting in zero aerodynamic degradation.
Low power consumption: Exceptionally low power consumption is achieved through the display architecture. This results in no measurable performance deficit when used in a racing application. In everyday mobile Digital-Out-of-Home (DOOH) applications, this means a small lightweight battery can provide the system with over 48 hours of power.
With exclusive use of the technology during 2022, the McLaren team wanted to bring the panels to the paddock with the right partner.
“We’re excited to see the panels feature for the first time at the US Grand Prix in Austin,” says Matt Dennington, Executive Director of Partnerships at McLaren Racing. “The technology will really allow our partners to maximise their reach, while enjoying a level of flexibility in key messaging that’s simply never existed in F1 before. We’re proud to be able to push the boundaries for partners, starting with the practice sessions on Friday.”
“F1 branding can be such a powerful marketing and fan engagement tool, so we’re excited to be the team helping to take the next step forward,” says Lou McEwen, Executive Director of Brand & Creative at McLaren Racing. “Allowing a partner to change their branding dynamically, including key messaging and linking it to broader campaigns, will open the door to even more opportunities to think creatively and bring our partnerships to life.”
PUTTING HIGH-PERFORMANCE FIRST
“First and foremost, we are fans of the sport of F1. Having worked in F1 and built strong relationships for over a decade this is the start of a very exciting project for myself and all the team at Seamless Digital. We want to make sure that our product is enhancing a race team. We have tirelessly iterated the system to reduce the total mass to ‘F1-levels of performance’. We want to be a net positive to McLaren, the sport and F1 followers. Its been quite a journey already with McLaren and we look forward to further iterations and uses of the displays… As a tool for teams and sponsors, we can’t wait to see the marketing creativity it fuels but we will also ensure that it remains a discerning product with high performance engineering at the heart” says Mark Turner, Seamless Digital.
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