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How Visa, Cash App & Red Bull Teamed Up to Create a New Formula 1 Team

At a new livery unveiling in Miami, Visa Cash App RB’s Formula 1 team describes how much has changed in the first year with new title sponsors.

If you’ve never seen a Formula 1 race car designed in the colors and patterns of a credit card, that’s because it’s never been done. This kind of unconventional creativity is driving the first season of Visa and Cash App‘s title sponsorship of what used to be known as AlphaTauri, Red Bull Racing‘s sister team.

At a converted nondescript car wash in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood on Wednesday, the Visa Cash App RB (VCARB) team unveiled a special car livery design featuring shades of sunset orange, pink, and purple mingling with its traditional red and blue colorway. While a far cry from February’s lavish, splashy official team debut in Las Vegas where Kendrick Lamar performed, the activation featured graffiti spray painting, a live DJ, and enough Red Bull-infused cocktails to keep revelers wired all weekend leading into Sunday’s F1 Miami Grand Prix.

After four seasons known as AplhaTauri, a Red Bull fashion brand, the energy drink giants felt things were due for a change. Instead of selling the club, it decided on further investment while positioning the team differently with a new approach that meant essentially starting from scratch.

“We had the chance to create a new Formula 1 team by having Red Bull give us a blank sheet of paper,” Peter Bayer, VCARB’s CEO, told Boardroom. “We could go out to the market and try and find the best partner for the team.”


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Red Bull had been working with CAA to find the right title sponsors moving forward, Bayer said, and it quickly landed on the combined bid of a globally known brand like Visa and an emerging entity widely known in the U.S. and abroad like Cash App that merged global recognition with innovative vibrance. Cash App had partnered with Red Bull Racing for more than three years, its first F1 partnership, and was happy to get its brand in front of an extremely engaged audience. Visa has been one of Cash App’s longest standing partners since it launched in 2013, making a whirlwind several months from ideation to launch less chaotic.

“When this opportunity arose,” Catherine Ferdon, Cash App’s CMO, told Boardroom, “who better to partner with?”

There’s been constant communication and collaboration between VCARB, Visa, and Cash App over the last several months on promoting the three brands and engaging with fans in the best ways possible for each of the 24 unique race locations this F1 season. February’s Vegas launch unveiling the new car design and drivers Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo set the perfect tone for Bayer, with celebrities like Odell Beckham Jr., Josh Allen, and Megan Rapinoe among 2,000 attendees representing an ideal mix of sports, music, and entertainment.

“That landed really, really well,” Ferdon said. “That was probably one of the most exciting moments that we’ve had yet.”

While Red Bull prioritized taking a more central role in branding activations in places like Japan and key sponsor Hugo Boss would feature more prominently in its priority countries, Cash App circled Miami on its calendar as a vital race in the first-ever U.S. race as an American-based title sponsor.

“We’re a new team and so we’ll be experimenting a lot when we move forward into other cities to see what resonates with our fan base,” Ferdon said, “but this is by far the most comprehensive activation that we’ve done.”

Formula 1 teams are only allowed three unique car livery design changes per season, and VCARB knew even last season that Miami would get one of this year’s special treatments. Bayer, Ferdon, and all involved then had to come up with a central idea, theme, designs, and colors to make the livery stand out in an innovative and pervasive way.

Late last year, they came up with designing the car like Cash App’s brightly-colored Chameleon card. Then came the tricky part, where the team’s engineers had to implement the concept in a way that still kept the racecar at optimal performance.

“The engineers hate special liveries,” Bayer said, “because they bring additional color, which means additional weight. Then it’s a fight over how much color can we put, and where can we put the color. Because if you put 300 grams of color on the rear or front wing, it impacts the car’s balance.”

From start to finish, Bayer estimated it took 150-200 VCARB staffers to bring the livery to life, including Tsunoda and Ricciardo. The drivers have exceeded Ferdon’s expectations in how creative and collaborative they’d be with Cash App and other major sponsors.

“They’re very invested in helping us build this brand and the sponsoring team, which is really refreshing,” she added. “The drivers actually come to us with a lot of our social media ideas, which is really fun. On our Visa Cash App Red Bull accounts on Instagram and Twitter, you’ll see Yuki and Honey Badger interact with each other, which is really fun to see.”

How do you truly determine whether you get proper ROI for a title sponsorship reportedly setting Visa and Cash App back $20 million per year?

While Ferdon said Cash App had several internal metrics, raising general brand awareness on a global stage was its top measurement. Wednesday’s livery reveal was the first of four VCARB community events over race weekend for fans who may not get the opportunity to experience the Grand Prix in person.

“What’s important is that we’re the only Formula 1 team constantly thinking outside the box on how to democratize the sport,” Bayer said. “We’re constantly going to be driven by doing things differently through this ferociously creative mindset we’re trying to establish in the team.”

For Cash App, Ferdon believes the company shares many similarities with Formula 1. Both prioritizing speed, safety, and technology, she said, were three themes that reinforced why it made so much sense to be an F1 title sponsor in the first place. As its first season progresses, Ferndon wants to make sure Cash App is leaving an imprint on F1.

“This may be our rookie year,” she said, “but we’re excited to see what we can do before the end of the year to make sure that people remember our brand and see that we’re showing up on the grid.”

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Shlomo Sprung

Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.

About The Author
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.