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F1 Has 920M Global Viewership – Is MAS’ Ban on Trackside Ads Futile?

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F1 weekend is just around the corner as teams and companies flock to Singapore for one of the calendar’s premier stops – the night race around the city center on 2 October. However, the Little Red Dot’s little red light on crypto advertising is sending mixed messages to the wider F1 community.

Crypto.com, FTX, Bybit and Velas are among the many crypto companies sponsoring F1 teams appearing at the Singapore Grand Prix this year. Crypto.com alone has spent more than US$100 million sponsoring F1 for five years, but the Monetary Authority of Singapore has remained firm on its strict crypto advertising ban implemented earlier this year.

Whilst team uniforms and cars are permitted to carry brand sponsorships from crypto companies, advertising on track banners is strictly forbidden. In fact, 8 of 10 F1 teams featured in the Singapore Grand Prix carry at least one sponsorship from a crypto firm.

MAS’s logic is that trackside branding is directly aimed at local audiences and thus advertising to locals would be in breach of its rules. Meanwhile, teams’ equipment – such as on cars and tracksuits – is more of an advert to F1 fans globally, MAS believes.

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The stance is rather puzzling as both local audiences and global audiences are exposed to both teams and tracks; viewers whether local or global can’t watch the race without seeing the cars and teams.

Furthermore, with only 268,000 fans physically attending Singapore’s last Grand Prix in 2019, compared to the 920 million global audience that viewed the races, it seems banning trackside advertising, which is also viewed by both local and global eyes, could be futile.

That said, MAS remains firm and consistent stance on its crypto stance. Currently in Singapore, crypto companies are only allowed to advertise to professional investors and are not permitted to display adverts in public areas. Whilst MAS is keen to develop aspects of the digital asset world, including toying with a CBDC, the body’s most immediate aim is to protect local consumers from the risks of crypto.

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The 2019 Singapore Grand Prix generated a media value of S$70 million to S$75 million, as well as S$130 million in annual incremental spending from tourists attending the race. Understandably Singapore will continue to warmly welcome the race’s return after two years of COVID, but in today’s sports landscape, it’s becoming impossible to separate crypto advertising from sports, which therein lies a dilemma for MAS.

2022 Singapore Grand Prix Crypto Sponsors

This year’s crypto sponsor lineup is as follows:

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