Drone racing – a trend sport that perfectly covers current topics such as digitization, innovation, eSports, drone technology and VR and meets the sponsors’ need for exciting content all year round. The Swiss Drone League (SDL) brings the combination of eSports and physical racing to all regions of Switzerland. By integrating the wishes of everyone involved and knowing what the spectators, the venues and the sponsors want today, it has been possible to achieve in record time what has taken other sports many decades to achieve. Since it was founded in 2018 – despite the corona pandemic – around 165,000 visitors on site, 130,000 stream viewers and 125,000 TV viewers have been reached with the “Formula E of the Air”.
The effects of the corona pandemic
With a lot of effort, 3 regular races out of 5 planned races could finally be held in 2020. In 2021, the implementation was abandoned at an early stage and instead work was carried out on innovations and long-term security.
Since the Swiss Drone League fell through the meshes of the “corona rescue measures” for classic sports, clubs, associations and companies, its continued existence was only possible thanks to the great goodwill of the main partners Helvetia, Hörmann and Toshiba Tec as well as the national partner Maxon secured.
Despite the corona pandemic, the founders were also able to celebrate positive successes during this time. The SDL became the first official national league for drone racing in Europe in 2020. The SDL now selects the official Swiss champion every year – on behalf of the AeroClub and the Swiss Model Flight Association – and sends the best pilots to the European and World Championships as official representatives of Switzerland. An exceptional honor for a privately founded league. In addition to being nominated for the XAVER Award 2020 as “Best Public Event”, the record for the highest drone race in the world 2020 was also set during the Swiss Digital Day in St. Moritz.
Originally founded together with MYI Entertainment GmbH, SDL was taken over entirely by White Carpet GmbH at the end of the 2020 season. So there is even more flexibility for new partnerships and new investments in the future.
New concept 2022 and many innovations
In the future, the Swiss Drone League will have 4 regular races (indoor + outdoor) per season, which will each be held as daily events. In addition to the previous year’s rankings, the results of regional “field races” will also form the qualification for the SDL in the future. Only the best 16 pilots (of which 4 wildcards are awarded by the organizer) form the basis of the new concept. With the focus on the best pilots, the relationship between the audience and the individual pilots WILL be further emphasized. In addition, the events were rescheduled so that if the situation changes due to the pandemic, the races could also take place on site without the public.
The spectacle with the pilots between the ages of 15 and 55 – who all compete in the same category – is streamed LIVE on internet platforms and broadcast at the end of the season in the 25-minute TV magazine on BLUE ZOOM. Thanks to the media partner BLICK, many millions of readers are informed online and in print all year round about the latest developments in drone sports.
SDL is also now realizing drone events and drone services of all kinds for the sponsors on the occasion of their own events (such as new openings, trade fairs, customer/employee events, product launches, etc.) and thus offers its partners additional added value .
A close partnership between the SDL and the Drone Champions League (DCL) was newly established. In the drone simulator game of the world, the drones can also be virtually controlled by an SDL track. The sponsor gates and banners of the SDL partners have been appropriately integrated, resulting in a new additional marketing channel for the sponsors. The implementation of the SDL track in the game not only makes it possible for newcomers to make initial contact with the SDL, but also to recommend themselves for a wildcard for the physical race for the following season.
A new homepage was realized by the partner REFIVE GmbH and with the Swiss Museum of Transport, after the world’s first race where exhibits were used as obstacles in the track, a year-round exhibition could also be realized, where visitors in Lucerne could get a little insight into the received SDL.
Thanks to a new cooperation with TCS Training & Events, not only will an SDL race be held on the only real race track in Switzerland in Lignières, but the first attempts at “TCS free flying for drone pilots” will be organized together on the TCS premises.
Originally, the idea was to visit the largest trade fair events every year and to fascinate visitors of all ages there as a racing attraction. Unfortunately, as is well known, there have been major changes in the trade fair landscape and the planned long-term cooperation has unfortunately not (yet) been realized. The SDL is all the more pleased to have created the SWISS DRONE DAYS in Dübendorf together with the University of Zurich, where everything related to drones will be held for the first time on June 11th and 12th, 2022.
Success strategy of the sponsors – creative integration + use
Gates and obstacles of any type, shape, size and color can be flexibly integrated into the race track. Without restrictions, the sponsors are allowed, not only with their logo, but also with creative objects/products/or similar. to be integrated directly into the track. Classic perimeter advertising is OUT – having your own “products” on the “race track” is IN.
For example, a garage with a Hörmann door drive is used as the start box for the race. The camera in the garage not only captures the growing excitement before the start, but also sets the scene for the Hörmann product. When the drones then fly their cameras through the Helvetia logo triangle (inflatable), for example, this generates images that ultimately go viral after the race.
In the future, VIP packages for customer/employee events at the races will be offered again. For the VIP guests there are guided pit lane tours with a meet and greet with the pilots. You can also fly with the professionals as a co-pilot and fly through a virtual SDL track on the drone simulator. As an unforgettable further highlight, you can also make your first attempts at flying with real drones.
Become part of the success story now
Innovative and creative commitments are important to the organizers and it is possible to get started with a few thousand francs. There is still room for a few partners, and particularly in the obvious areas such as telecommunications, trading companies in e-commerce, energy companies and financial services, there is currently still the option of entering this new world at low cost. It will be interesting to see who will be the next pioneer alongside the existing partners.