Why Singapore Grand Prix wants to innovate the way it buys out-of-home media

The idea of lighting up a 3D car in itself is a simple concept, but has never done before.

For the Singapore Grand Prix (SGP), the promoter of the Singapore leg of the FIA Formula One (F1) World Championship, out-of-home advertising has proven to be a novel medium to engage new audiences in the sport.

As part of its promotion for the upcoming F1 race in Singapore, it used a lighting technology called LumiWerkz to create a 3D out-of-home (OOH) campaign that saw five Singapore F1 3D cars have their intricate body designs illuminated to recreate the night race visual experience.

The campaign was managed with the help of Moove Media, the advertising arm of the transport giant ComfortDelGro, which owns and operates assets like buses, rail and taxis in Singapore.

Sasha Rafi, the director of advertising and marketing at Singapore GP tells The Drum that the race organiser decidedto use a 3D OOH campaign to promote the F1 Singapore Grand Prix 2019 the sport embracestechnology and innovation.

She also points out that the sport is multi-sensory and is meant to engage all of the human's senses.

"Working with Moove Media to execute a 3D OOH campaign which is further enhanced with the LumiWerkz innovative lighting technology is an embodiment of what the F1 experience represents and further reinforces that Singapore is the home of Formula 1 night racing," she explains.

Rafi says SGP has taken a tactical and through-the-line approach to market the race with different strategies deployed to target various demographics in recent years.

That means putting more focus on innovative and impactful outdoor and big format advertising which gives it a better and wider reach.

In 2018, SGP released three exclusive virtual reality (VR) experiences that allowed fans to enjoy the thrills of the night race before the proper race.

Fans could choose to zip around the Marina Bay Street Circuit onboard Red Bull driver Max Verstappen's car, go on a guided behind-the-scenes tour, or explore the massive Circuit Park in 360 degrees.

The VR experience was just one of several fan-friendly activities under the F1 Power Up community series, launched in the lead-up to the race.

This is in line with F1's owner Liberty Media's efforts to continue to rebuild the sport and service fans better. F1's director of marketing Ellie Norman previously told The Drum that it launched its direct streaming app with little warning because it is going directly to the fan to give them the best experience possible.

"Our challenge to Moove Media was to do something different, and we discussed a couple of novel ideas to enhance the proposed media buys on their platforms," explains Rafi.

"The idea of lighting up a 3D car in itself is a simple concept, yet it was never done before and the Moove Media team did an excellent job in the execution of the campaign."

The designs of the F1 replica cars were produced by SGP's in-house creative team as the race organiser wanted to showcase Singapore as a garden city through the main livery design which heavily features abstract floral elements.

The team was also inspired from the diverse cultures in Singapore, which led to a design that was influenced by the Peranakan culture and fuses other iconic landmarks of Singapore like the Merlion, Esplanade Theatre and other local architecture.

Nelson Low, the creative director at Moove Media, says that LumiWerkz presented their lighting technology to Moove Media a year ago, which the agency thought would be ideal for the F1 night race because in past campaigns, LED lights were used for 2D campaigns.

"However, in a 3D execution, they could not provide a flat and continuous lighted exterior design. With LumiWerkz, we overcame this challenge as the spray-paint application produced seamless illumination around corners and edges," he explains.

"As this was the first OOH campaign in Singapore using spray-paint electroluminescent lighting technology, we had to secure approval from the relevant authorities to use this new lighting technology on the roads."

Rafi adds that with this being a new technology, SGP had to get the buy-in from all stakeholders while keeping within the parameters of the regulations. Nevertheless, the challenge was worth it, she says.

"It is crucial to have a supportive partner to work with and explore new and innovative ways of executing traditional buys. Our goal every year is how do we be the first to explore and execute campaigns using new technology and mediums," she explains.

"Together with Moove Media this year, we are always trying to push the envelope to see how we can co-create exciting campaigns and give traditional buys a twist of life."

Low adds: "You can create wonders with a good product and the right execution."

The F1 was found to be a big boost to Singapore's economy in 2017, according to research by Blis, as it recorded a 173% jump in mobile activity at key local restaurants and an 82% lift at local shopping malls during the race weekend, as compared with normal weekend activities.

Online, F1 is also trying to develop non-intrusive ads for its website, Formula1.com. It is working with Inskin Media to roll out the ads in UK, Australia, Singapore and the United States.

It will employ Inskin’s own template-based web tool to create ads optimised for both desktop and mobile utilising pre-prepared animations in addition to proprietary ‘scrolling sides’ functionality to draw the attention of readers.

The Drum will be looking in-depth at topics including the challenges of getting creative output to fit the more targeted future of media display at the upcoming Programmatic Punch APAC event in Singapore in October.

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