Audi Places Branded App On iPhone

Audi ad Audi has become the first automaker to park a branded app on the iPhone. The "Audi A4 Challenge" lets iPhone owners "drive" the 2009 model year vehicle, which goes on sale next month. The application exploits the motion sensor in the device that changes perspective when the phone is rotated. The game, a free download at Apple's Application Store, uses the motion sensor steers a virtual A4 through a series of progressively challenging courses.

Players maneuver the course and race against the clock to beat their own personal best time. The effort is via Denver-based Factory Design Labs, Audi's interactive AOR.

The effort is supported at www.truthinengineering.com/a4/iphone, which hosts a Web-based version of the game. The site, which can also be accessed via mobile phone, includes videos, wallpapers, an exterior color customizer, a dealer locator and link to install the Audi A4 Challenge application.

Jeri Ward, Audi's general manager of marketing and strategy says iPhone users and Audi drivers converge. "I think our customers and potential customers are smart, tech savvy, and tend to use devices like iPhone," she says, adding that Audi has executed marketing programs with Apple in the past. Audi used the company's iTunes platform last year to distribute videos about its cars downloadable to iPod devices. "[The iPhone program] seemed like a natural extension, and it's a good way for consumers to engage with brand."

According to Ward, there were, by Friday, about 100 user-reviews of the game on iTunes for the game, which launched in Thursday.

Apple said it sold a million of the new iPhone 3G phones within three days of launching on July 11, bringing total iPhone sales to over 7 million. Apple hopes to sell 10 million iPhones by year's end. Per the company, consumers downloaded 10 million applications from the company's App Store in the first week.

Audi began pushing its media budget toward interactive media last year when it awarded its $70 million ad account to SF-based Venables, Bell and Partners.

Ward says the 2009 A4 campaign is heavy in digital media. The campaign launched last week with TV ads that aired on broadcasts of the Olympic Games, and a banner-ad campaign.

"For us it's another way to engage consumers with the brand, and the approach in itself is very consistent with our brand DNA; it's an opportunity to connect with consumers at their level because they are using devices anyway, so we can bring product to them in unique way. Ideally if we engage with them and they enjoy gaming they will go to next level."

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