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Inside the Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix: Opportunities, Challenges and Brand Buzz

F1 Grand Prix Las Vegas 2023_VirginAs the chords of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” blared from the stage at the T-Mobile Zone in Las Vegas, the Sphere behind it turned crimson and lit up with the Virgin Hotels brand imagery in a precisely orchestrated moment of splashy visual, sound and emotional convergence. It was pure delight. And the race hadn’t even started yet.

The Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix that took place Nov. 16-18 on the Strip offered brands an opportunity to activate with impact and scale in a highly charged environment. For the past several months, Las Vegas had a love-hate relationship with the much-anticipated race. While officials touted the benefits of hosting such a high-profile event, locals voiced their discontent over road closures and traffic jams, as parts of Las Vegas Boulevard and nearby streets were completely repaved to become part of the track.

But Las Vegas loves large-scale, flashy events, and, ultimately, it was hard not to feel the excitement. F1 was coming to the city for the first time since the 1980s, investing more than $600 million in the event, and promising serious economic impact and a long-term relationship. As the crews were putting the finishing touches on the stands and fan zones on the last day, rented sports cars revved down the repaved parts of the Strip in their moment of race glory.

hendricks-motorcycle-f1-teaserMore F1 Coverage:


And yet it was virtually impossible to watch the race for free. The track walls, as well as temporary and permanent bridges around it, were covered with opaque film, obscuring the action. Tickets started at about $250 for locals and skyrocketed into the thousands and even a few million dollars for uber-premium packages by hotel properties. Hotel rooms with a view sold at a premium.

Brands primarily activated in designated zones and viewing experiences positioned along the track. The East Harmon Zone by Virgin Hotels Las Vegas featured The Red Bull Energy Station; The South Koval Zone by Caesars Rewards was home to Heineken House overlooking Koval Straightaway; and the West Harmon Zone was powered by Chrome. EM had a chance to experience the T-Mobile Zone at the Sphere.



Formula 1 Heineken Silver Grand Prix Las Vegas 2023_attendeesFirst, you had to wear sneakers because the trek from any hotel parking to the actual zone entrance was a serious calorie-burner across various bridges and casino mazes. But the upside was that even if you weren’t too familiar with the teams, you got to learn about them from fellow fans across the globe decked out in their team gear. F1 merch was also available in pop-up stores along The Strip. Calories burnt were quickly replenished in the fan zone, with free food and soft drinks from Wolfgang Puck Catering, and on a chilly Vegas night, shaken ramen or tacos quickly drew a crowd.

KultureCity’s sensory-inclusive bags were available upon request for anyone who needed some extra tools to cope with the noise and potentially overwhelming atmosphere. The bag contained a pair of noise-canceling headphones, sunglasses, a fidget toy (which proved totally addictive) and a communication card displaying a range of emotions, as well as needs that a person could point to, such as a quiet area, a restroom or an exit.



The focal point of the zone was the T-Mobile stage, set against Las Vegas’s newest attraction, the Sphere. Fueling the excitement, it featured a stream of entertainment, from djs to live bands over the course of the race days. Granted, the Sphere is hard to compete with for attention, and sometimes, the action on stage coincided with the imagery on the Sphere, which plain stole the show.

T-Mobile customers could hang out at Club Magenta, a double-decker with bars, charging stations and a private club vibe. Non-customers could get in on the action by posting a photo with a specific hashtag on socials. While standing in line—and there was quite a line—they could also test their “t-flexes” in a hit-the-buttons game and win brand merch.

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A few steps away, F1 invited fans to try their skills in the Pitstop Challenge, where three teams raced to replace the tires on F1-style cars, making for a great hands-on experience and a photo op.

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Paramount+ promoted its sports programming with a branded double-decker PUB where fans could get up close and personal with jerseys of soccer stars and watch programming on large screens. In a highly branded T-Mobile space, the brand managed to create a very distinct and authentic environment.

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American Express powered a separate F1 Las Vegas Hub, a standalone retail experience a block away, but it still had a presence at the T-Mobile Zone with its Amex Race Radio that let fans tune into the race commentary in real time.

Photo credit: Jenna Fernandez for American Express


Oracle Red Bull Racing had a designated grandstand elsewhere on the track. In this fan zone, the brand activated with “a portal” that offered its fans a glimpse into the team’s racing garage by scanning a QR code, and a rare photo op with the brand’s imagery to keep the adrenaline—and fan engagement—pumping.

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