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Driving the metaverse forwards

Driving the metaverse forwards

Martin Fullard, editorial director of Mash Media, speaks to David Coulthard, former F1 driver and co-founder of Velocity Experience, about the metaverse and how it impacts engagement, objectives and experience.

Founded in 2017 by David Coulthard and Guy Horner, Velocity Experience is a motorsports-focused events agency that delivers both live and virtual event productions for Formula 1 and Motorsports.

From events such as Red Bull Racing’s MK7 and Aston Martin R-Motorsport, to the Autosport Awards – the agency prides itself on its unique event offering.

“For some of our high profile, live events, like F1 Live London in Trafalgar Square, we have to seek permission from the Mayor’s Office or Westminster to put on the event. We also have to liaise with various teams, artists and media to put the event into place,” Coulthard reveals.

But when the pandemic hit, like many agencies, Velocity Experience began organising more virtual events. “This is where our interest in the metaverse began, and we began to understand the importance of it. We want to ensure that we are at the forefront of every opportunity to deliver for clients,” he says.

The metaverse

The metaverse, it’s been a key discussion point in the industry as of late. “That’s the fantastic thing about the world we live in, words that previously had no meaning before, they suddenly become a buzzword – like the metaverse,” says Coulthard.

From a brand perspective, how can the metaverse help them achieve their objectives?, I ask Coulthard.

“It not just about expanding audience reach, it ultimately comes down to what the individual is looking at. There’s a number of companies that have been using digital assets to communicate and to engage with audiences. However, there’s also a number of companies that are more traditional and don’t use these digital assets,” he says.

For those who don’t, Coulthard says the engagement from younger generations can be alarming. “The younger generation engages with digital well. For example, my son can engage with and drive the circuits of the World Games with international friends, all while sitting comfortably on his sofa,” he says.

Coulthard continues by providing a Formula One example. “Bernie Ecclestone was the previous owner of the commercial rates on the targeted existing wealth. I think famously when it came to anything that wasn't either selling high-end watches or high-end vehicles, they weren’t interested in engaging a wider audience in racing and bringing Formula One to having a more purposeful internet presence.

“However, under Liberty Media, which an American company, they have accelerated that entire space to all sorts of offerings,” he says. According to Coulthard, NFTs are now being recognised as a ‘360 approach’ to the world when it comes to sport.

“If you're looking at future, you have to be engaging in these emerging and fast developing worlds,” he stresses.

“For any modern business today that wants to have people fully engaged, it needs to be represented in that space – in the metaverse,” he advises.

Formula One – bringing brands and audiences together

Using the metaverse isn’t just a tick box exercise, “it’s about being there,” he reminds us. It’s also about choosing the right partner, “this will help you create more engaging marketing,” says Coulthard.

In the world of Formula One, the metaverse can make audiences feel like they are in the race.

“If you are looking at an automotive brand, that already have a presence in Formula One, then you absolutely would want to give their users the opportunity to feel that they are in the Grand Prix car. You want them to have a full 3D, interactive experience of sitting there,” he says.

“The only limitation is purely just the speed of development of the hardware units that are used to engage, and of course the software. That’s why dealing with partners that have extensive experience in that field gives us a competitive edge.”