Two high-powered marketing execs raced hot rods along a desert road in front of a packed house at the Internet Ad Bureau's MIXX Conference that kicked off Advertising Week in New York on Monday.
Paul Edwards, executive director of marketing strategy for General Motors, and Darren Huston, corporate VP of global consumer and online marketing for Microsoft, strapped themselves into competing Chevys and shrieked in glee as they plowed through barrels, doing sick air as they took hills too fast. But they finished the course in one piece -- on Xbox.
Instead of using a real steering wheel, the two -- who were playing the new Microsoft Kinect-powered game -- controlled their vehicles with body movements. The game was a demonstration not only of natural user interface (NUI), which uses movements and touch instead of keys and wants to navigate digital media, but of how the companies are partnering to launch Chevrolet's Volt electric car, which goes on sale in November.
The campaign beginning this fall uses a multi-screen marketing approach that includes Chevrolet branding and vehicles in the game, powered by Microsoft's new Kinetic NUI platform, Chevy's use of Pivot to create a visually compelling way to winnow one's car shopping list based on things like mileage, size, and emissions, and test-drive events linked to users' mobile devices.
Huston said the growth of this kind of marketing reflects consumer behavior; the average American home now has 30 digital devices."
"The transformation we are seeing is a landscape that won't be made of banner ads and links. It's a landscape of bits and bytes," said Huston, adding that Microsoft is putting more than half of its own marketing on digital platforms.
A Microsoft consumer study of advertising perception found that 69% of consumers embrace the concept of multi-screen advertising, he said, adding: "Another interesting fact is that TV combined with online improves recall by more than half. Media consumption continues to increase -- up 197 hours per month, partly because people are time-shifting and place-shifting. "Young people rarely watch TV without another screen around them," said Huston.
Edwards said Chevrolet is using Pivot, built off of Excel and Silverlight, to give vehicle shoppers a visual interface that graphically narrows, categorizes, eliminates or expands the field of possibilities from a large matrix of hundreds of vehicles based on choices.
Chevrolet is also putting virtual vehicle demonstrations on multi-touch PCs that allow people to customize the Volt.