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McLaren look to broaden appeal with launch of animation arm
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Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  12 Jul 2012   |  11:33 am GMT  |  88 comments

The McLaren Group has announced a new branch of its company, McLaren Animation. The new venture is aimed at bringing a more accessible front to McLaren as well as stimulating increased brand loyalty; as is apparent in the company’s first production – ‘Tooned’.

McLaren Animation has set up an alliance with Oscar-winning animation studio Framestore – whose recent projects have included the film War Horse and the BBC’s Euro 2012 title sequence – to create ‘Tooned’, a new show featuring the voices of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button as themselves as well as Alexander Armstrong, who will voice Professor M.

The CGI animated series, which was shown for the first time during Sky’s F1 coverage of the British Grand Prix, is a very good example of McLaren Group Executive Chairman Ron Dennis’ visionary thinking and the ever-expanding nature of the McLaren Group.

“It’s an exciting and creative concept that addresses the insights gleaned from our research in a very innovative way,” said Dennis. “I’m confident that the opportunities it presents will be extensive. Creating a more demographically accessible ‘face’ for McLaren will help our brand appeal to a wider audience whilst also fostering increased brand loyalty.”

The three-minute long episodes will be shown before each race, with the drivers testing the patience of Professor M as he tries to create a World Championship-winning Formula 1 car. And although the series is scripted and directed throughout, the characters have been told to improvise as much as they can in order to bring fans closer to the real personalities of the two British stars.

“‘Tooned’, offers a unique platform for McLaren and its partners to achieve exposure to a wider audience, as well as to integrate brand messaging in a format of a high-octane sport not known for an ability to laugh at itself,” said John Allert, Group Brand Director of McLaren Marketing. “Appealing to kids and parents alike.”

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88 Comments
  1. Donald says:

    Cool.

    I read “McLaren” and “appeal” and 2007-2009 all came flooding back!

    1. KGBVD says:

      HAHAHA +1

      1. james s says:

        Good one!

      2. james s says:

        Eh?

      3. Donald says:

        Back in the days when McLaren & Hamilton were in trouble more often, compared with now.

    2. Kay says:

      Don’t get that one..

      1. Sbrown says:

        They appealed against being stripped of constructors points. Dont worry, its probably because youre new to the sport.

      2. Kay says:

        oh THAT “appeal” lol.

        I was thinking “appeal” as in products / marketing stuff being appealing to customers.

        But 2009 McLaren appeal??! That’s 2007-08 tho.. what’s this to do with 09?

      3. Peter C says:

        Oh, don’t say that. You don’t know what you’ve done.

  2. Dufus says:

    Very Cool.
    Also a timely distraction from McLarens woes.

    1. Wayne says:

      McLaren need to worry about winning bloody races!

      1. Wayne says:

        Having said that, I just watched it and it’s kind of cool ;)

  3. scott printup says:

    McLaren better concentrate on getting their car to move forward in a race rather than create cartoons.

    1. Peter C says:

      I doubt if the pit-crew & engineers are making the film in their spare time, but maybe Framestore are helping with the 2.6sec pitstops?

      1. Wayne says:

        Yes,yes, yes but it’s cash and time and Ron Dennis, LH and JB have personally been involved – you’d think they would have other priorities.

      2. Peter C says:

        I really think McL should listen to the ‘opinions ‘ from the sofa.

      3. iceman says:

        Outside the resource restriction agreement though ;)

      4. Andrew Carter says:

        It’s called “PR”, and all the drivers get involved with it.

    2. IM says:

      I doubt it’s the F1 engineering devision that is creating these animations!!

    3. William Wilgus says:

      Yes!

  4. Jonathan Kelk says:

    I rather fear this may become counter-productive if they are not careful, in the UK at least. They need to make it accessible. If they are seen to be getting too close to the people who have taken formula one racing away from most of our screens, they will generate a lot of anger.

    1. James Clayton says:

      I did find it amusing in the first episode when one of the drivers asked the professor “what’s that?!” while pointing to a car that had some kind of jet engines with flames coming out the back. The professor said something along the lines of “oh that’s something we’ve been asked to try out for next year, to try and spice up the show…”

      1. Wayne says:

        Bernie will be watching….

      2. Peter Freeman says:

        Watch again, its a missile launcher ‘the teams have been asked to test to spice things up’

        Don’t give bernie these ideas chaps…. ;)

  5. Andrewinwork says:

    They’d better hop they’ve nailed Lewis’ contract or they’ll look incredibly stupid with an ex driver in their films

    1. Davexxx says:

      Good point: maybe behind the scenes Lewis HAS signed up and hence the timing of this announcement?

    2. Jonathan Kelk says:

      You mean something like this 2007 film with Hamilton and Alonso!!!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKU90BSHqHk

  6. David Patrick says:

    Way to go!

    Talk about a new feature from McLaren, but then dont provide links to either McLaren or the new feature?

    Awesome…..

    1. Wallers says:

      It’s not that hard to find really.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ld8-VW-0D2M

  7. Mike from Colombia says:

    Focus on the car guys.

  8. Dunky says:

    It’s innovative and funny! Good on Mclaren.

    Hope they now show the same creative thinking when it comes to making the car go faster!

  9. tara says:

    Cute idea – making the F1 “machine” more personable.

    James
    Way, WAY off topic (sorry) but whats going on with Flavio? you mentioned a few years ago that he was instrumental in getting the Pirelli deal. Does his ban end next year? Any rumours?

    1. James Allen says:

      He’s been gloat listing around in background of discussions on the future, Concorde etc, especially in Monaco. Not heard much since then

      1. Pat M says:

        Maybe I’m just dumb, maybe it’s a typo, or maybe it’s a local slang we don’t use in Canada, but I have no idea what ‘gloat listing’ might be….

      2. Peter C says:

        Neither do I, but sounds right for Flavio.

      3. Lindsay says:

        I figured I’d post something sarcastic about the power of internet search engines.

        Then I searched for it myself. This comments page is the top result on Google for “gloat listing”. Hmm.

        Congratulations on reaching the top of Google James but I’m just as confused as these guys!

      4. James Clayton says:

        I’m guessing it’s a type? Putting ‘Gloat Listing’ into Google brings up a load of unrelated results, including this page in position 5!

      5. James Allen says:

        I like it – think we should create a new strand, “The Gloat Listing” – like the Capello Index…

      6. Pat M says:

        I like the idea of a ‘gloat listing’. If it is going to be Flavio inspired it should be limited to dubious boasts, like scoring points in the 2005 Indianapolis Grand Prix ;)

    1. Jonathan Kelk says:

      Thanks for the link.

      Am I the only one that finds that ‘underground testing track’ the funniest part – something almost to wind up the other teams :D

      1. Peter C says:

        Like the CERN Higgs-Boson collider.

        That reminds me of Montreal 2011. Collider.

  10. Nigel says:

    “drivers testing the patience of Professor M as he tries to create a World Championship-winning Formula 1 car…”

    Right now Professor M’s creation is testing the patience of the drivers, methinks.

  11. Elaine says:

    This is brilliant

  12. Nil says:

    The clip is great! :) I hope all toons don’t end up with a dead heat finish.

    1. Scott Walton says:

      I agree, the clip is great, they need to make more fun of themselves as they progress. Build the little animated characters with more human weaknesses. Of course which one would be amenable to allowing their character become the bad guy or fall guy? Not sure either of there personalities would tolerate it.

  13. tharris19 says:

    McLaren needs to expend the resources used for this animation project to upgrade it’s management team.
    When a car from a resource rich company like McLaren go from near best to near worst in nine races there are problems at the top. Drivers and mechanics can’t fix McLaren issues.

  14. kp says:

    Time McLaren Group really worked out what it wanted to be. Ever since it started to talk about producing road cars the F1 side of the business has underperformed. And with each new business venture, including the silly HQ, such under-performance has increased.

    At the moment it really is a team only capable of attracting middle order performers such as Hamilton and Button. Does anyone really think a Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen or ever a Webber would consider Team McLaren as part of a bright new future rather than just a magnificent history.

  15. Bru72 says:

    McLaren fans, I feel for you…. highly embarassing

  16. Blazej says:

    Quite funny, but also it loos very “forced” and unnatural. It might be a good marketing idea, but a winning car is all that they really need for “brand loyality”.

  17. IJW says:

    Doesn’t Lewis look a bit crossed-eyed in the first picture above? :-)

  18. Tevin says:

    This sounds like a monumental waste of time and effort, especially since they can barely get a car to circuit Silverstone in a timely manner. Put the money and brain power to better use boys. It’s like if Pixar decided to go racing. Absurd. No wonder they fail.

    1. Hendo says:

      yeah – imagine if a soft drink company decided to go racing, absurd!

  19. Rodger says:

    I always knew they were a Mickey Mouse outfit ;)

  20. Jake says:

    Good to see McLaren prioritising.

  21. Bring Back Murray says:

    I guess McClaren have got to try and find some kind of excitement one way or the other

  22. Nismo + F1 says:

    They could test or simulate their Mp4 27via toons…. as their development is being distracted by this cartoon programme……

  23. Il Leone says:

    ‘Creating a more demographically accessible ‘face’ for McLaren will help our brand appeal to a wider audience whilst also fostering increased brand loyalty’

    Classic RONSPEAK!

    However, they should probably prioritise building a fast and reliable F1 car, otherwise they won’t have any fans left to build loyalty with.

    1. Dan says:

      Yes! I was going to post this exact comment. Ronspeak at its best.

  24. Davexxx says:

    Maybe this is the way F1 is going? Make it all Virtual… ;-)
    Hence Bernie’s long-term coverage deal; no more nasty accidents to real people; more evident cost-cutting possibilities; teams with the most clout with Bernie will win the races…

  25. Robin Rainsley says:

    Sorry I just don’t ‘get’ the relevance of this to McLaren. Animation.. This is more like an April Fool – has all the rain short circuited Mr Dennis’s faculties?
    I regard Ron D as a clever man but at this time this must be a joke isn’t it.

    Better to spend their management time and all available computer capacity on simulation and computational flow analysis – trying to sort the MP4 problems before the business revenues force them to completely re-think corporate strategy.

    4th or 5th in the Constructors Champuionship for 2012 just won’t support the McLaren lifestyle and expenditure.

    I know they will get their act together pdq but this is at best a diversion from core focus at a critical time..

    1. James Allen says:

      I disagree – it’s a good extension of their activities. Don’t forget that they do loads of different things way outside of F1 and even automotive via McLaren Applied Technologies.

    2. Aderac says:

      This is no way effects what McLaren do with the car, its the product of a department in the huge Mclaren Group, like marketing for example. All teams have marketing, are they wasting their time with it, no.
      This to me is a brilliant idea, and certainly one I didn’t expect from McLaren.

  26. Charlie says:

    If it turns out not to be pants then great – something along the lines of Pinky and the Brain would be lovely.
    (well scripted, intelligent, and funny)

    If it’s also a bit of fun for Lewis and Jenson along the way then what’s the harm?
    (If only Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart were a current McLaren pairing)

    But a ‘burger and fries’ production for the sole purpose of satisfying McLaren’s ‘marketing geniuses’ that distracts the drivers from their real job… not so good.

  27. Marc Wood says:

    I don’t understand all the negativity this is generating – F1 is built around sponsorship, marketing, branding etc. and I imagine that this is just a very small part of McLarens’ off-track activities. Like an earlier poster said, it’s not like they had the engineers animating it in their spare time.

    My 7 year old son, who, despite my best efforts, has taken little interest in motorsport until now sat and watched this with me three times tonight – if this kind of thing helps to encourage future McLaren and motorsport fans (which it will) then I’m all for it.

    1. Robert says:

      And old message, but very well said. It isn’t about what the punters here on the forums think about it – it’s about that valuable 7 to 12 year old market that can decide to become F1 fans which may turn into a lifetime hobby, or decide that watching footie is more fun. And McLaren are the largest English-speaking F1 team, and have the resources to do this and do it well. It cannot help but grow the sport over the years.

  28. Fareed says:

    C’mon everyone- lighten up- I think it is very entertaining. My kids loved it.
    Lotus is my favourite team , but somehow I think Kimi would not have been as entertaining.
    Ferrari perhaps think they are too cultured for this sort of thing. Maybe they will commission an opera instead. (Speaking of which, whatever happened to the opera based on Senna’s life??).

  29. Peter C says:

    Most of the comments above seem to be made by a miserable bunch of naysayers.
    Or McLaren haters.
    Where’s your sense of humour?
    It may not be the funniest thing in the world, but it’s F1-connected, so isn’t that good?

    Lighten up, lads!

  30. Kieran says:

    Seriously, every single poster who has said ‘focus on the car’ – do you think that they aren’t?

    This is secondary – a marketing effort by Mclaren, to build their business and to maybe … demonstrate they can have a little fun as well?

    Is there anything wrong with that? I thought, all things considered, that this is pretty damn good. I made me laugh, at least.

    Seriously, lighten up. I never knew Lewis could be such a voice actor, either.

    1. Liam in Sydney says:

      +1

      It is not like the McLaren engineers and mechanics spent their time doing this animation. And surely the budget for this sits in the wider McLaren Group rather than the F1 team. So why not have some fun? Sheesh.

    2. Doobs says:

      Lews voiced in one of the “Cars” animations didn’t he?

      At least if the cartoon car is too slow, Ron can have a word with the animators.

  31. Lindsay says:

    I wonder if the reaction would be different if this came out of a team with a “fun” reputation (whatever that means, considering they’re all deadly serious about the business of F1) like Red Bull.

    It gave me a chuckle, so I consider it a success already. It also shows a more human side to the drivers, and Odin knows Lewis Hamilton needs that.

  32. Sebastian says:

    Surprisingly good, tongue in cheek. Wierd though to brand it as McLaren Animation.

  33. NJ says:

    The film is produced at FRAMESTORE. Not at McLaren.

    So there is no dividing of resources except maybe 30 minutes to one hour for Jenson and Lewis to do Voice Actor work.

    1. Buddy says:

      Framestore were commissioned to do the animation. But they didn’t do it for free. Many a dollar was spent on this animation (and more will be spent on future works).

      Probably won’t affect the development of the MP4 as there is the RRA to consider.

      Maybe its purpose is to hook the little ones early, build the brand, so they can sell more of their road cars in the future (just like their new 12C Spider sports car).

  34. Kevin H says:

    Too much negativity in this thread. Also in other threads as well. Guess there’s too many armchair/office chair analysts out there. I think the animation was brilliant and I’m looking forward to seeing more from Mclaren Animation. As James stated it has no bearing on the speed of the MP4-27. It is a separate project managed by a different part of the business. By sharing this video on my facebook timeline, even my friends who aren’t into Formula One can be entertained. Perhaps more and more of these videos can lure in new fans for Mclaren which is exactly what they are aimed at doing.

  35. JB says:

    This is a cool idea from Mclaren. A great way to hype up their reputation and broaden appeal to kids. Which may lead to future engineers, drivers.

  36. Kay says:

    I think McLaren would achieve more in getting Pixar to feature their road / F1 car in Cars 3 alongside Lightning McQueen than create this themselves as a marketing thing… looks all too stupid and time wasting to me. Good try though.

  37. thejudge13 says:

    Clever concept on many levels and steals a march on the drinks marketing F1 team image.

    All you Mclaren worryiers…Let’s see how good the car is when the race weekend temperatures are closer to their norms… (I know Valencia was….but its one of Mclaren’s least favourite tracks).

  38. AH Jordan says:

    Yes this must be the reason for McLaren’s recent slump…what with all the time it must have taken out of JB and LH’s schedules…

    …I mean that one episode alone probably took at least 10 minutes to record the voices for…

    I love it…even the car looked awesome…when do they release the tie-in t-shirts?!?! (actually I’d better check they haven’t already!!)

  39. skpm says:

    The clip is funny and it will help McLaren’s marketing image. It just keeps reminding me that this is more and more of a show, and less of a sport, with the driver moving further into the background. A week ago two articles appeared in the German news-paper FAZ on MotoGP (sorry to diverge here): One was a current review on two rising riders from Germany – it was the German GP weekend of course. Both riders were describing how ‘everything’ was in place – a cool demeanor in case of victory, a press-liaison, a support manager, a line of clothing, the sponsor entourage … The other article was about Casey Stoner, one of the most talented and ingenious rider of recent times – and current World Champion (with many predicting that he will win many more). Casey announced that he is retiring at the age of 26. He is so fed-up with everything surrounding the racing, that his enjoyment is drained by the narcissistic self-promoting behavior of the current riders, sponsors, and teams. How long until the self-promotion of teams, sponsors (and manufactures), and even drivers will have drained the last of the ‘true’ drivers in F1? It will not come overnight, but …

  40. daphne says:

    I’d rather they did comething constructive with the money, outside F1, that they are spending on expensive cartoons.

    It’s just wasteful and will be forgotten about soon.

  41. Dave Aston says:

    Gotta hand it to Ron Dennis… he can make a kid’s cartoon sound unbearable.

  42. Jp says:

    Does McLaren really have that kind of a testing-track underneath Woking? Wonder if they accidentally revealed a big secret, and nobody bothers to really check it up. What if it’s true?? :=

    1. James Allen says:

      Can you imagine that getting through Planning?

      Also there’s the small question of the ECU – car won’t run without it and the FIA regulate it. It’s impossible to run an current F1 car today without it being known about

      1. Robert says:

        Look, we all know that SHADO built an entire headquarters under the Harlington-Straker TV and Film stages without Planning permission. So an underground test track is not out of the question. Actually, thinking about McLaren and SHADO…hmmm. Are we sure that is a _test track_?

        And it would always seem possible to use a spare chassis or last year’s car as a test bed in a hypothetical underground test track.

  43. F1Ray says:

    Ross Brawn allegedly likes this McLaren cartoon idea, and is said to be considering running a similar one involving Hamilton and Rosberg, next season. However, given their car’s present level of competitiveness, The Mercedes GP one, will be called “DE-TOONED”.

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