UK motor racing team McLaren Racing and nicotine pouch brand Velo have launched a new esport series, featuring personalities like British music artist Craig David.
The Velo Eseries is part of an ongoing campaign with British American Tobacco (BAT) and marks the brand’s entry into esports. It aims to connect fans across motorsport, music and entertainment.
It will be presented by ex-Top Gear host and TV presenter Rory Reid and consist of four parts, seeing celebrities go head-to-head against internet personalities.
Launching this weekend (January 9th 2021) and concluding at the end of April, Series One will kick off with Craig David and automotive creator Supercar Blondie. Their race for series 1 is set to take place at 1pm GMT on Saturday February 6th, according to a press release.
Content will be available on Velo’s social channels, including the livestream of each virtual race on Velo’s YouTube channel.
While tobacco brands have a strong history in motorsport, it’s not as usual to see them in esports, and it’s uncertain how sim racing fans and others will react to this news.
Velo sees the esports series as a chance to reach their customers, in its words, ‘in new, exciting and engaging ways, giving them the opportunity to participate and race against celebrities with a host of exclusive prizes up for grabs, including Velo-branded racing overalls, gloves and games consoles’.
The company has been principal partner of McLaren Racing since early 2019.
Craig David, DJ, singer songwriter and producer, said: “Hanging out at McLaren’s HQ was an incredible experience where they properly put me through my paces with F1 training and simulator practice – hopefully I’ll have some major skills going into the virtual race. A huge thank you to all the team there and at Velo for allowing me to be part of this eracing series!”
Alexandra Hirschi, Supercar Blondie, said: “I absolutely loved racing against music legend Craig David. That’s what I love about cars, it brings people together who would otherwise never meet. Velo and McLaren have brought back a real enjoyment for esports.”
Mark Waller, CCO at McLaren Racing, said: “McLaren and Velo share a similar passion for putting fans at the heart of engaging experiences.
“It’s great to kick-off the New Year while we wait for the new Formula 1 season to get underway with this exciting new eracing initiative. Fan engagement continues to be more important than ever during these times so it’s great to work with our partners to develop fantastic experiences like this.”
Paul Lageweg, BAT’s new categories director, commented: “Velo is all about creating exciting experiences for our adult nicotine consumers, encouraging them to find their edge, and we are bringing this to life with our new Velo Eseries programme. The popularity of adult gaming has continued to grow, so we’re excited about tapping into this trend, adding an exciting and entertaining twist with some famous faces.”
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.