Motorsport Marketing Has A New Star: AR

Motorsport Marketing Has A New Star: AR
February 1, 2017

With the use of augmented reality, Sunoco is reinventing how marketers activate around the sport of NASCAR and engage fans. 


Through a recent full-page ad in the Charlotte Observer tied around its ‘Essence of Racing’ campaign from 2016 — specifically how ‘sound’ plays into motorsports — the Official Fuel of NASCAR gave fans an opportunity to bring the newspaper to life as they witnessed various sounds from the racetrack. Sunoco is one of the early brands in sports tapping into the emerging technology.


As Mark Burford, Senior Director of Marketing Strategy and Creative Development explained, leveraging augmented reality complemented traditional media as the brand constantly thinks of ways to deeply engage consumers through different creative strategy and digital initiatives.


According to Burford, the technology component allows Sunoco to extend its passionate fans’ engagement with the brand from online to print, too.


After downloading the Essence of Racing: Sound app, fans could hold their smartphone over the advertisement to experience the sights and sounds of racing as race car driver Jimmie Johnson conducted an unconventional symphony.


The augmented experience combined parts of three 30-second commercial spots throughout 2016 in addition to sounds from Sunoco’s online application where fans could create their own soundtrack, mixing together the noise of the car engine, fans cheering, a bouncing tire and the twist of a socket wrench, among other musical integrations.

Sunoco’s creative agency A&G developed the overarching concept and strategy — including the user experience and design — while A&G then partnered with Philadelphia-based digital product company Stuzo for writing the code and bringing everything to life.


Both Burford and Wick Vipond, Vice President of Business Leadership at A&G, called augmented reality more accessible for consumers versus other similar forms of technology, like virtual reality.


As a result, that played a key role in integrating it into the campaign. Furthermore, AR felt like the perfect medium to immerse fans in the ‘Essence of Sound’.


“With print for example, obviously it makes it a one-to-many interaction versus more of a personalized one-to-one,” Vipond said. “Virtual reality is totally awesome and you can do really interesting things but it requires, while I’m sure we’ll see this continue to change, you need a headset and you also potentially need the headphones for the audio. Not that many people have adopted it.


“It’s an experience a few people would be able to take advantage of but the vast majority of the population carries a smartphone device. One click and downloading an app is extremely accessible. It allows us to reach more people.”

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