- Market rout has prompted regulators to tighten rules.
- McLaren to debut special crypto-themed car for Singapore race.
When Singapore hosts the most popular motor sport this weekend, the visibility of digital assets will be far more subdued. The Monetary Authority of Singapore will let teams show their crypto sponsors’ logos only on cars and uniforms at the Singapore Grand Prix, but no advertising will be permitted around the track or in the local area.
The shift underscores the changing mood around crypto, both from a regulatory and a financial standpoint. Jurisdictions in Singapore, the UK and France have intensified scrutiny this year after digital asset prices soured, billion-dollar projects collapsed and major market players went bankrupt. As a result, F1’s newest throng of advertisers are finding ways to make their mark without moving too boldly.
The rout in cryptocurrencies in recent months, which has wiped out around $2 trillion in value since November, has left crypto brands more cash-strapped but still keen to maintain what they’ve already invested to keep a foothold on the world stage.
Jeremy Walls, a senior executive for the Miami venue who helped close the deal with Crypto.com, said that current market dynamics may make crypto companies “be a little more thorough and thoughtful” about the deals they sign going forward.
“I’m still seeing people doing crypto partnerships now, it’s just maybe not the pace that it once was,” Walls said.
Partnering with an F1 team has turned into a status symbol for crypto companies, a flashy multi-million-dollar accessory that signals affluence and success at a time when market prices reflect the opposite. Around 80% of F1 teams have at least one crypto partner, in addition to Formula One Group itself, which has its own $100 million-deal with Crypto.com.
Zak Brown, head of McLaren Racing, said that F1 teams “don’t want to get left behind” when a new sponsor or trend emerges. McLaren signed a five-year deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars with crypto exchange OKX in May and will debut a special crypto-themed car for the circuits in Singapore and Japan in compliance with the stricter advertising guidance.
Rob Bloom, chief marketing officer at Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings Plc’s F1 team, said the need to alter sponsor branding to suit different locations is par for the course in the sport. Certain locations require bans on alcohol or tobacco marketing, for example, where companies like Philip Morris International Inc. historically showed the shape or colored branding of their cigarettes without actually displaying a logo.
Aside from emblazoned logos across drivers’ uniforms and cars, F1 teams are also getting into crypto themselves. Several now offer fan tokens —- team-specific cryptoassets that can be earned, traded and used to pay for experiences or rewards -— and nonfungible tokens assigned to individual car parts.