McLaren look to broaden appeal with launch of animation arm
Posted By:   |  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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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”.


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?? :=


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


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.


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


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.


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 …


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!!)


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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


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.


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.


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.

Liam in Sydney


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.


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!


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??).


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.


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.


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.

Robin Rainsley

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..


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.


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.


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…


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


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


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


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

Bring Back Murray

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


Good to see McLaren prioritising.


I always knew they were a Mickey Mouse outfit 😉

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