McLaren hires former Microsoft exec as director of esports

McLaren announced the hiring of former Microsoft marketing executive Ben Payne as the Formula One team’s first director of esports.

The announcement was made during the final week of competition for McLaren’s World’s Fastest Gamer contest, featuring 12 finalists competing for a contract to become one of the team’s 2018 simulator drivers. In April, McLaren became the first Formula One team to announce its own esports property.

Payne worked in third-party marketing, partnerships and events for XBox EMEA, as well as on global campaigns for Windows. He will now oversee the growth and development of McLaren’s esports strategy.

“It’s undoubtedly an exciting time to be joining the organization, and I’m looking forward to helping the McLaren brand grow and develop through its esports and gaming proposition,” Payne said in a statement.

Payne will oversee the World’s Fastest Gamer program and lead the development of the WFG partner community, activating gaming partnerships across retail, media partnerships and key industry events.

“Gaming and esports are two huge and exciting markets, and we believe that they’re essential elements of McLaren’s new marketing platform,” Zak Brown, McLaren’s Executive Director of the Technology Group, said. “The growth and appeal of gaming, and its close relationship to motorsport and Formula One, makes this a natural area of expansion for us.”