F1's McLaren Launches Animation Division To Boost Brand

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McLaren - the Woking-based family of high-tech companies that encompasses Formula 1 motor racing, high-performance sports cars, and the development of motorsport-derived technologies – has unveiled a new firm, McLaren Animation.
 
McLaren Animation’s first production – Tooned - is a new CGI-animated series designed to generate new levels of audience engagement and brand loyalty. Debuting on July 8 on Sky Sports 1, it features McLaren’s two F1 World Champions, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, who voiced their own characters, as well actor and comedian Alexander Armstrong. 
 
Tooned will be broadcast as a series of three-minute episodes coinciding with each Formula 1 Grand Prix, and will air in the UK on the SKY Sports F1 channel before each race. Each episode will use the drivers’ celebrated camaraderie and urge to race to grow comical adventures that test the patience of a character called Professor M. Voiced by Armstrong, Professor M’s primary role, aside from acting as a comic foil to the two heroes, is to create the weird and the wonderful innovations required to stay at the forefront of Formula 1 motor racing.
 
Writer-directors Chris Waitt and Henry Trotter created the scripts with input from Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley, whose credits include Ten O’Clock Live, That Mitchell and Webb Look and The Armstrong and Miller Show. Once the characters had been mapped out, dialogue was laid down through voice recording sessions, director Waitt encouraging the drivers and Armstrong to improvise and play off against each other.
 
McLaren Animation is a joint venture launched in partnership with Oscar winning visual effects and animation studio Framestore. According to McLaren it “bypassed the traditional creative agency route by approaching Framestore directly. Framestore was then engaged to centralise the roles of creative agency, production company and VFX house, thereby creating the series on a cost-effective budget and to an efficient schedule.
 
Framestore founder and CEO William Sargent added: “We share a vision and passion for excellence and a common bond in seeking ways to appeal to new and wider audiences. For us, our partnership with McLaren provides a perfect platform in a sport we love and with a brand we admire. (These) films are a start – and their simplicity and quality hide an enormous commitment in time and technology from a world class team at Framestore – one that has been excited by the McLaren challenge in the same way as on a Harry Potter film.”
 
 
John Allert, Group Brand Director of McLaren Marketing says: “There has been a gradual shift in the power and influence of children over family viewing habits – not only in terms of what they watch, but also in terms of how they watch it, on PCs and smartphones as well as TV. Into that gap we’ve decided to launch a CGI-animated series that follows a tradition established by films such as ‘Toy Story’ and ‘Wall-E’: story-telling that is thematically big in scope and can be enjoyed on a number of levels, appealing to kids and parents alike. That new series, 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 high-octane sport not known for an ability to laugh at itself.”
 
Ron Dennis, Executive Chairman of McLaren Group, added: “Tooned is the result of extensive market research carried out by McLaren, which John Allert, our Group Brand Director, and I then analysed together. It’s an exciting and creative concept that addresses the insights gleaned from our research in a very innovative way. I’m confident creating a more accessible ‘face’ for McLaren will help our brand appeal to a wider audience whilst also fostering increased brand loyalty.”