My first weekend at track
Cassidy Venne, Account Executive, UK
The Formula 1 ARAMCO British Grand Prix is one of the most highly anticipated races on the Formula 1 calendar. As a storied circuit known for delivering the best in on-track action, over 480,000 fans flocked to Silverstone for the big weekend. Fortunately, I can include myself in that number managing activations at-track as part of the Jack Daniel’s team – my first experience activating onsite. .
Since joining CSM in November last year, I have heard colleagues sharing memories from last season and have been excited to make some of my own. One of my focus areas for the partnership is overseeing Jack Daniel’s European market activation plans, and so early on Silverstone was highlighted as a top priority for both European and Global opportunities for activation. Of course, having also just moved to London from Canada made it even more exciting to work on such an iconic British event.
As one of our global focus races, the lead up to Silverstone involved both local and international planning, with other markets including Turkey and Poland also attending the race. I was the lead contact for the local UK market, and my role over the course of the weekend would be to support with branding, ticketing, transportation, and logistics. From a local market perspective, the team had a 24-guest suite at The Hilton overlooking the Hamilton Straight, an experiential activation in the Fan Zone, as well as 64 Grandstand guests and a Paddock Club program. In addition, 11 guests from Turkey, and 18 guests from Poland also made the trip to the UK. I was responsible for creating and managing Poland’s guest programme over the course of the weekend, including accommodation, transportation, ticketing, and additional experiences.
As July came around, it was difficult to have expectations for something I’d never experienced before, but I was certain it would be both a challenging and rewarding weekend. I was looking forward to seeing the months of planning come to life, getting to meet clients in person, and creating memorable experiences through the Jack Daniel’s and McLaren F1 Team partnership for Brown-Forman employees, customers and consumer competition winners.
I headed up to Silverstone on Wednesday with the best team, Dan Sharples and Michael Cotterell, who thankfully knew how to drive on the left side of the road. We were at track from Wednesday-Sunday, with our first two days filled with familiarizing ourselves with transport routes and circuit layouts, branding checks, and activation set-up. Time flew by each day, and without even knowing it the day had disappeared with 20K steps under your belt. Come Friday, the atmosphere was electric, and my own excitement was feeding off the fan energy. Friday evening, we organized a motorsport team dinner to connect with colleagues and enjoy a summer BBQ together before what would surely be a hectic weekend. This was such a thoughtful event that lifted team morale and gave us each an opportunity to share learnings from Day 1, whilst re-energizing ahead of the weekend.
On Saturday, our guests arrived from Poland, and I spent the day with them travelling to track, waiting out the joys of British weather in a rather wet Fan Zone, and cheering on the McLaren F1 Team to a fantastic qualifying result. By Sunday, both the guests and I had become more confident in our knowledge of the area and timings, allowing more attention for the on-track action.
Of course, that sounds like smooth sailing, but the weekend was not without its challenges and learnings. Over the course of the weekend, we navigated last minute requests, changing transport schedules, and the mental and physical drain 12+ hour days can have. As an introvert, I had to navigate feeling socially drained, but with the support of my team I never felt overwhelmed or incapable. From everyone at CSM, I learned about the importance of being flexible, adapting to changing situations, and focusing on that which is in your control. I am definitely what I would call a planner, but when it comes to events, I have realized that you can only prepare so much, and there will always be elements that fall into place as they happen.
Over the weekend, it was amazing to see the collaborative efforts of the entire team, working together to help navigate issues and provide solutions, no matter the time of day or urgency. Being able to share challenges and learnings as they happened and knowing that the larger team was always there to support me was such a reassurance. It was also so exciting to hear about and develop a deeper understanding of just how many activations we were involved in at track, from Jack Daniel’s, to MoneyGram and Tata Communications.
Come Sunday afternoon, I was lucky enough to get to watch the race with my team and other colleagues, the most rewarding way to end an exciting weekend full of new experiences (with a McLaren podium to top it off!). But above all of that, some of my favourite moments are the small ones shared with my team – watching the sun set over a field of sheep (which are rare for Canadians), stealing the AUX to force the team into listening to Taylor Swift, and eating a pub roast after a long and successful day at track.
Having the opportunity to take on a lead role with the UK market in my first few months with CSM and working at Silverstone was such a unique and valuable experience, but overall, I am so grateful that I got to do it with the best team by my side.