World’s Smallest DOOH Network Has Four Screens, But F1’s Global Ad Audience

October 25, 2022 by Dave Haynes

Pretty much every digital OOH network operator that targets motor vehicles as their “location” has to worry about quickly getting to scale across 100s or likely 1,000s of cars and screens, but a newly announced DOOH initiative involves just two cars – albeit very high profile ones.

A company called Seamless Digital is putting a small screen in the cockpit area of McLaren Racing’s two Formula One cars – enabling branding to appear and change from the viewpoint of the drivers’ live helmet cameras. There are two super-thin screens, each about the size of smartphones, mounted around where the driver sits.

The tech was used this past weekend at the F1 race in Austin, TX and will be in place for the balance of the 2022 season.

Says McLaren in announcing the partnership:

The pioneering collaboration brings the latest methods of digital advertising to life – the ability to dynamically change branding on Formula 1 cars across a race weekend, a first in the series. McLaren will run a two-display system around the cockpit on its MCL36 cars for Friday practice sessions for the remainder of the 2022 season, beginning at the United States Grand Prix.

The cutting-edge technology will debut exclusively with one of McLaren’s Official Partners, allowing them to dynamically change its brands on both McLaren’s Formula 1 cars.

McLaren Racing and Seamless Digital’s launch at the United States Grand Prix will demonstrate a glimpse into the future of motorsport marketing, allowing the team to connect with its fans and partners in new ways. As part of the deal, McLaren Racing also has options to explore the technology for its wider racing portfolio.

Louise McEwen, Executive Director, Brand & Marketing, McLaren Racing, says: “Being able to rotate different brands on our cars is a game-changer in this space and we are looking forward to seeing the impact this has on the wider industry.”

Mark Turner, Founder and CEO, Seamless Digital, says: “Being able to change branding in real-time on a Formula 1 car will give greater flexibility and value to teams and partners. Our technology enables more creative options for brands to communicate situationally relevant messages.”

“We have found,” Turner adds, “the perfect partner in McLaren who share our ambition for innovation and breaking convention as pioneers in the fields of technology. We believe this is just the beginning of flexible on car branding and motor racing assets. By ensuring the technology works on a Formula 1 car we have already cracked the toughest place to innovate and are set to disrupt advertising across F1, motorsport, golf, US sports and ultimately, wider more mainstream use.”

They didn’t so much find each other as built off an existing relationship. Seamless Digital is part of Silverstone Paint Technology (SPT), the largest paint facility within Formula 1 and an all-round market leader for high-performance paint technology and coatings. 14 of the 20 cars on the F1 grid are painted by SPT.

Given all the augmented reality overlays being used in broadcasts these days – definitely including Formula 1 broadcasts – it almost seems odd that physical displays need to be put in place in car cockpits, but I’ll just assume there’s a reason. It’s a very small, well-defined trial, as the screens are just being used on Friday practice sessions, and not the more heavily viewed qualifying and race days broadcasts.

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