With just weeks from concept to delivery, a London based marketing agency approached a number of companies for a solution to a very unique and challenging brief. Their non-disclosure agreement meant that there was limited information to work with at the beginning. The marketing agency was searching for the perfect partner who would be able to execute an event of this style and after meeting Blue Hat Teambuilding, they quickly realised they had found the right partner.
The end client sponsors the cycle hire scheme in London, the Ferrari F1 team and Jenson Button, an F1 world champion. They wanted to use all these links to engage celebrities and fans on the start/finish straight at Silverstone.
The challenge was also to create meaningful content for Sky TV’s live, prime time F1 show. It had to be fun to participate in and had to appeal to both a packed grandstand of thousands, whilst also being visually rich to translate to a live television broadcast. Furthermore, everything had to be agreed with Formula 1’s new bosses as nothing of this nature had been done before.
The marketing agency looked after the media relations, co-ordinating with F1, Sky, McLaren and Ferrari F1 teams whilst Blue Hat Teambuilding focused on the activity. Head of client services at the marketing agency said, ‘I needed a company with the vision to create the concept, an ability to physically build it to a high standard for a high profile event and the ability to deliver the experience live. There are many companies who can do each of these things individually, but I needed one that could manage all three, in-house, to enable a complete turnaround in less than 2 weeks. Blue Hat Teambuilding stood out head and shoulders above the rest, so the decision was easy.’
Blue Hat Teambuilding commercial director and co-owner Ben Parkinson said, ‘I sat down with our design team and we quickly came up with the design to match the brief, which we were all very excited to put into action. Once signed off by the client, we started construction in our Hertfordshire workshop. Due to the short lead time, we had a few 2am finishes to make sure everything was ready in time, but as always, the guys pulled it off with style.’
Timings for the activity were very prescriptive. To fit in with the London Cycle hire scheme, a themed obstacle course was designed. It had to ensure that the participants, all with unknown cycling ability, had to take between 60-120 seconds to complete the course. So the obstacles could not be too challenging, yet not too easy.
Blue Hat Teambuilding created 6 highly visual and cycle-orientated obstacles, all focussing on icons of London. ‘Unlock London’ had riders over see-saw bridges and through Buckingham Palace and St. Paul’s cathedral, ‘the City Slalom’ comprised Big Ben, a red phone box, a Queens guard and more. ‘Getting Limbo’ involved riding under limbo bars of ever decreasing height, whilst the ‘Union Flag Fling’ required riders to throw bean bags through a Giant Union Jack target board.
Blue Hat Teambuilding had just one shot to get it right. 6pm was the live TV start time. There was no access to the track before the live event and all the equipment was newly built and hadn’t been seen before; the gauntlet had truly been thrown down. The on-track activity prior to the event was GP3 racing which was due to finish at 5.30pm. Access to the track would only be given once all race cars were off track and the famous Mercedes safety car had done a circuit of the track to make sure it was 100% clear.
Parkinson commented, ‘At Blue Hat Teambuilding we are meticulous in the smooth delivery of our events. An event of this complexity, there were many things to consider, for example we needed a 75metre long space to practise. With offices on a working farm we were able to utilise one of the farmer’s fields to rehearse. This was fundamental to the success of the project. For the head to head race there would be two lanes. We had the equipment laid out in a specific order in two 7.5 tonne trucks. The plan was to drive each truck slowly up the start/finish straight, passing the obstacles and associated equipment directly into position on the track. We were told that we’d have only 20mins to do this. At the first practise in a bumpy farmer’s field we managed it in 23mins. Leaving the field, I was totally confident we’d do it in under 20mins on the day.’
Nick Drew, head of product design at Blue Hat Teambuilding commented, ‘We weren’t allowed access to the track before we went live. We were sitting in our vehicles in the pit lane waiting for the GP3 to finish at 5.30pm. They didn’t finish until 5.48pm, but being a live TV show the cameras were still going to start rolling at 6pm on the dot. I remember thinking – this is going to be close! Our event team were amazing and I remember seeing the clock ticking down to 6pm and the words ‘going live’ on screen just as we placed the last of over 363 items on track. Job done! In just 12 minutes!’
The final challenge was to manage a wide variety of individuals including TV presenters, Camera crews, press photographers, excited fans plucked from the crowd to join the teams and F1 drivers to ensure a slick series of races took place. Parkinson adds, ‘Live TV! The phrase – Never work with children and animals – sprung to mind! But when it comes to live management of a group of people in a fun and engaging experience, then this is our sweet spot and well within our comfort zone.’
The team captains were Jenson Button and Sky Presenter Natalie Pinkham. Other drivers involved included McLaren’s new driver Stofel Van Dorme and Ferrari’s test driver Marc Gene. The other leading drivers including Lewis Hamilton were brought out to entertain the live crowd to add further excitement and energy to the whole experience.
The event ran like clockwork and the feedback from every party involved was hugely positive. The TV bosses from Sky said the activity provided perfect content for their show. The marketing agency said, ‘this exceeded every expectation of my vision of this event. My client could not be happier with the outcome and I’m so pleased we found you to partner with us on this activation. I don’t know anyone else who could have helped us deliver such a unique, high profile, audacious idea of a live event.’
Blue Hat's Ben Parkinson with Jenson Button
If you have an event idea or concept and are not sure how to turn it into a live event for your team, then you won’t go far wrong to call Ben Parkinson and the team at Blue Hat Teambuilding.