I had a chance this weekend to get to my first Grand Prix of Baltimore. And naturally, being in the business of marketing and sponsorship, my priority was not to see the cars on the tracks, but to spend as much time as possible seeing how brands were activating to the fans. And I was not disapointed.
First stop was the Indycar Fan Village. A recent addition to the IndyCar series, the Fan Village is meant to give all the series sponsors a chance to do their data capture and fan engagement platforms together in a central location. This way, fans are encouraged not just to visit one sponsor, but to visit them all. Complete the series, and you may win a VIP fan package for an upcoming event. In order to track your progress, you register and are given an RFID bracelet, which is scanned at each station, either via cell phone or tablet.
Once your bracelet has been scanned, there are a variety of activities to participate in. Some of my favorites:
- National Guard’s real-life IndyCar simulator
- Verizon’s series of speed challenges, including the virtual pit stop challenge
- Lincoln Technical Institute’s actual pit stop challenge
My only complaint is that while I registered with Facebook, I didn’t see any of my updates posted, including some photo marketing and score updates that would have been nice to have. Not sure if this was a glitch with the system or with the people operating it, but I hope it’s something the series works out in the future.
Other highlights included a well-thought out kid zone (air conditioned, inside and quiet, filled with a number of bouncy activities), any number of spin-and-win options, and of course, bacon on a stick.
- 5-Hour Energy had a great Spin-to-Win wheel, complete with product attributes and free samples. I didn’t win, but did get a free lanyard for trying.
- Parts of Camden Yards were open to the public, integrating elements already in the city into the event footprint. Smart, from being able to offer shaded seating areas to eat inside the ballpark, to the chance to sample Dempsey’s famous “Bacon on a stick”.
- The kid zone was inside the convention center and air conditioned. Gave a kids a chance to get out of the noise and heat (which was nice) and the area was filled with things for them to do for free.
Could it have been easier to get down there? Light rail helped me avoid traffic, so no complaints. Good crowds, but not crowded. Lots of walking, but that’s expected in Motorsports, especially in a city street course. Will I go back next year? Definitely.