Content brand of the week: McLaren, the brand that’s getting animated about content


Isn’t that Lewis Hamilton’s old team?

Absolutely right, McLaren is a Formula 1 team that is harnessing digital content to appeal to those audiences less interested in motor racing.

You mean some people don’t enjoy watching millionaires drive round a circuit 50 – 60 times over the course of a single afternoon before dousing each other in champagne?

Apparently not. McLaren is ably keeping pace with the other F1 brands in terms of content for petrolheads and racing fans; there are a couple of apps, a blog written by former F1 champ Emmerson Fittipaldi and a rich heritage section telling the team’s story with the use of hi quality video and compelling copy. Where McLaren differs though is its stated aim to appeal more to kids and parents.

That’s basically everyone, isn’t it?

Pretty much. In terms of pure creativity and inventiveness, our favourite McLaren branded content is ‘Tooned’ – a series of animated shorts that initially ran on Sky, immediately before F1 race broadcasts. The Pixar-style animations, complete with celebrity voiceovers from Alexander Armstrong and Brian Cox, soon garnered a big online following – a DVD of the collected first series sold more than 20,000 units. Now the series is back to celebrate the racing team’s 50th year with episodes dedicated to champion drivers, from Bruce McLaren up to the present day. The episode about James Hunt was skillfully scheduled to coincide with the launch of Rush, Ron Howard’s new big-screen blockbuster about the life and times of the original playboy speedster.

Impressive, sounds expensive though. How many brands can afford their own TV series?

It certainly helps if you’ve got a budget bigger than Bernie Ecclestone’s ego but while this type of content might seem out of reach to smaller brands, McLaren still see ‘Tooned’ as an important business tool, rather than a luxury indulgence. The success of the show has opened up new commercial streams for the brand like merchandising and gaming. Framestore, the company behind the animations, is even talking about producing a feature-length film based on the success of the show.

Seems that as far as content goes McLaren is in pole position. Are any of the other big F1 teams doing similar things?

While some of the bigger teams have their own apps, blogs and games, much of this is focused on the interests of the existing F1 fan. The content McLaren produces with a younger more family-oriented appeal is helping it out-pace the competition when it comes to broader brand recognition and reach.

It certainly gets my motor running!

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More from Tom Owen
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Author: Tom Owen

A strategic storyteller and compelling content creator, awash with acuity and adept at alliteration. I work for Speak Media.

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