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Google Chrome invests in OOH, digital ads to reach Formula 1 Racing fans as the sport grows in popularity

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Google is promoting its Chrome browser with out-of-home and social ads to reach Formula 1 fans as the sport is becoming increasingly popular.

During the United States Grand Prix Oct. 21 in Austin, TX, the brand advertised with signs at the airport and local concerts, and with Chrome-wrapped shuttle buses for attendees to take to the race. The tech giant put digital ads on social media with the Google Chrome branding, and had an on-site activation.

“We want to start building affinity with our brands and F1 fans,” said Adrienne Lofton, global vice president of platforms and ecosystems marketing at Google. “With the Austin Grand Prix, we plan[ned] to drive usage of and brand love for [the] Chrome browser by being front-of-mind and connecting with F1 fans onsite and online with engaging experiences that showcase Chrome’s speed and performance.”

It is unclear how much of Google’s advertising budget is allocated to this campaign as Lofton declined to share budget specifics. According to Kantar data, the brand spent a little over $204 million so far on advertising this year. Lofton said that the ad spend was split evenly with 50% toward OOH and 50% toward digital ads.

On site, fans were asked a mix of McLaren and Chrome trivia questions by Jessica Smetana, a digital creator, and podcast host for a chance to win exclusive merch and gift bags.

And driver Lando Norris demonstrated Chrome’s speed by completing tasks, such as making a purchase with stored payment information, in a matter of seconds, the length of a good F1 pit stop. Norris appeared in three short social ads for Google Chrome’s Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram accounts.

“This association with one of most watched sports in the world, and certainly the most high tech, casts the normally approachable every-person brand in a different, hyper efficient light at a time when all of the big tech companies are racing to be seen as credible hardware producers and leaders in Web 3 innovation,” said Ian Schatzberg, CEO and founder of brand agency General Idea Agency.

In recent years, Formula One has increased in popularity, especially among young viewers. From 500,000 in 2018 to nearly 1.5 million viewers in 2022, F1’s average viewership steadily increased in the U.S. Additionally, the 2021 U.S. Grand Prix in Austin drew the largest F1 crowd in history.

“It is savvy for Google to pursue a partnership with McLaren Formula One Racing Team as the sport continues to grow in popularity because they are able to reach a large audience while continuing to be a trendsetter in experiential and digital marketing,” said Olga Andrienko, VP of brand marketing at leading SaaS and online visibility company Semrush.

Chrome is still the most popular browser in the world 15 years after it was launched, but — as Lofton put it — the tech giants still wants “to bring more people to the party.”

“To do that, we need to show up in culturally relevant moments and connect with consumers in new and authentic ways, building stronger ties with people around the world, especially the next generation,” said Lofton.

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