CAPTURING THE THRILL OF RACING IN THE AMERICA’S CUP: 360 FILMING WITH JAUNT AND JAGUAR LAND ROVER
Jaguar Land Rover has been a long-term partner of the America’s Cup and its involvement in this high-profile sporting event is a key part of the company’s sports sponsorship strategy; integral to its marketing activation strategy and communicating its key brand values to their customers.
In 2017, there was a real buzz around the Jaguar Land Rover-sponsored BAR team who were taking part in the America’s Cup. Being the only English team participating in the competition and captained by Olympian Sir Ben Ainsley, there was huge focus on the team’s performance, as well as high expectation on the team’s chances of winning. High expectations weren’t just reserved for the racing crew, but for an immersive experience to bring the race to Jaguar Land Rover’s customer base.
“We constantly strive to create stand-out experiences for our customers through our partnerships, and by using Jaunt’s cutting-edge VR technology, we are able to give the user unprecedented access to the team and America’s Cup Sailing in a thrilling first-hand experience.”
— Mark Cameron; experiential marketing director, Jaguar Land Rover
A partnership between Jaguar Land Rover, sports consultancy CAA, Ben Ainslie Racing and Jaunt ensued to develop a cinematic VR experience that would “do something that 2D can’t do”, providing the perfect way to connect with its customer base in an innovative and impactful way in a way that more traditional forms of filmmaking can’t do.
Recognising that only a small number of people would ever be able to travel to Bermuda to witness the America’s Cup first hand, the challenge was to create a VR experience that “could almost allow audiences to be part of that experience and be on this technologically advanced racing boat with Sir Ben Ainsley” explains Jaunt’s General Manager, International, Dominic Collins.
What was produced?
A series of three cinematic VR experiences were produced and filmed during the BAR team’s training programme in Bermuda. The first episode, ‘Above and Beyond’, takes audiences from the locker room to the boat, delivering the thrill, the rush and the adrenaline of being part of the crew. The second episode was a product-focussed piece based around Sir Ben Ainsley driving a Land Rover around Bermuda, highlighting the beauty of the island alongside showcasing the vehicle. The final film focussed on the BAR team, giving audiences the chance to find out more about the team through a series of interviews.
How it was filmed
All filming took place on location in Bermuda and Jaunt worked closely with Wing, Jaguar Land Rover’s production partner who were highly experienced in filming sailing content, particularly in challenging environments such as those required by the shots “on-board” on the boat.
Given the diversity of the films produced, a variety of shooting techniques were applied. Eight KeyMission 360 cameras were custom rigged on the boat, as well as having the BAR team wearing chest and head mounts to capture the action in a variety of viewpoints. Innovative camera techniques were used for filming underwater, and additional shots were created using Nokia Ozo’s mounted on drones. Jaunt One cameras on custom rigs were also used for filming in the Land Rover vehicle and a dog cam added a fun addition to the filming schedule when Ben Ainslie is filmed on a beach with his dog. Simple dual camera shots were used for the interview episode, giving viewers the chance to get to know the crew more.
Tackling project challenges
The main issue faced throughout the project was minimising the impact of filming on the BAR team, whose time and efforts are focussed on training to win – a common issue for sports VR projects. This meant that Jaunt had short time windows to film in, working to a tight production schedule that had to fit seamlessly around the BAR crews training programme.
Limited access to the BAR team, mixed with the complexities of the shoot and working in a remote location meant pre-production planning was crucial to the successful delivery of the project. Creating storyboards, locking down BAR team diaries and location recces were the key to effectively planning the production schedule so that there wasn’t a minute wasted.
“Whenever you’re working with talent, there’s always the concern that you’re not going to get the enough time with them. At the end of the day, the whole of the team was out there to win the America’s Cup. These things, while part and parcel of sponsorship, will always be secondary to training. We were fortunate enough that people see the camera and go ’that’s pretty cool, what’s that about?’ And they are happy to wear chest and head mounts because most of the talent we work with are often intrigued by the technology and the storytelling opportunities of VR, so we gain access to their time quite effectively.”
— Dominic Collins, Jaunt
Getting buy-in from the BAR team and gaining their trust played a significant part in the successful outcome of the production. A lot of work was undertaken in pre-production with the team around the crew, so they had the understanding around the technology and what it can do. As the crew are at the top of their professional game, they were passionate about spreading the word about their chosen sport, so could see how the experience provided a great chance to promote the sport more broadly.
Filming on the boat also proved challenging for the production team. It’s a small boat, so the finding places for cameras was tough. This was coupled with moving at a high speed, so it’s both a dangerous environment for the camera technicians as well as challenging to get great footage. Additionally, the Jaunt crew had to be mindful that there were parts of the boat that could not be shown in the final cut to protect the top-secret technology on the boat, so it could not be replicated by competitors. Pre-production activity, including storyboarding and clever editing in post-production also helped to tackle this issue.
Ensuring the VR experiences reached the right audiences at scale was fundamental to its success. To achieve this, a multi-platform approach was undertaken to distribute the experience.
In the first instance, the experiences were showcased as part of Jaguar Land Rover’s hospitality activities at the BAR team’s Bermuda HQ throughout the event to selected guests including journalists, key influencers and clients. An America’s Cup VR Roadshow appeared in selected dealerships around the UK, where prospective customers could be transported onto the boat in Bermuda. As Dominic comments:
“If you have a physical space for activation, it is very easy and cheap to put Gear VR headsets in – and it’s more compelling for customers. It is a nice way of integrating VR into client’s physical activation marketing.”
The experiences were also distributed via the Jaunt platform to ensure the entire spectrum of VR headsets was covered, as well as on Jaguar Land Rover’s Facebook and YouTube accounts. By deploying mobile and social 360 solutions, a broader audience could be reached.
Dominic is optimistic for the future of immersive technology for brands looking for innovative ways to deliver effective activation strategies around key sponsorship activity.
“Using VR can help to better connect with the target audience. It has tremendous potential for spin-off or bonus content, alternative versions and directors’ cuts.”