Volkswagen of America, Inc. is launching its latest GTI vehicle with a virtual version of it. In fact, the company says the virtual version will be the only element of the campaign, which will be exclusively on a mobile platform. When users download the free "Real Racing GTI" game from the App Store, they can compete for the chance to win one of six, limited-edition 2010 GTIs.
The Real Racing GTI App, which was designed by game-maker Firemint, is available for free from the App Store on the iPhone and iPod Touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore/.
Volkswagen will choose one player per week to win a customized version of the car for the duration of the six-week program, which launched Thursday.
The Real Racing GTI game lets players send messages to competitors via Twitter and to capture and upload videos of their best laps to the game's YouTube channel. Consumers who buy the GTI MkVI car will also be able to configure their vehicles, modeled after the six prize cars, at participating Volkswagen dealerships throughout the U.S.
Charlie Taylor, general manager of digital marketing and the person responsible for the program, says that nothing about the program -- including promoting the game itself -- will be in traditional media.
He tells Marketing Daily that the program will be promoted on VW.com and the company's Facebook page, which has some 300,000 followers, as well as sites like Twitter, and on YouTube, where VW will have a viral video about the campaign on its account. "It is really a combination of the most aggressive marketing, PR and social media. We expect that consumers will find it compelling enough to share it."
Taylor says that based on the 1.7 million downloads VW got for a similar program around the launch of the Polo, the target for GTI is 2 million downloads, with an audience from 20 to 40 years of age. "So you can include enthusiasts, but also technophiles," he says.
"Volkswagen owners index very high in gaming and mobile use, and in the U.S. mobile actually has a higher penetration than Internet usage." He says that although iPhone and iPod Touch owners don't dominate mobile use, "when it comes to engaging apps, it is the platform of the moment."
Taylor concedes that ultimately, selling a car means showing the real thing, ideally in three dimensions.
"I think there's reason to be slightly skeptical, but this is different. First of all, there is no replacing getting in the car and touching it, and more so from the Volkswagen brand because seeing the car, the fit and finish -- that's what sells.
"But when it comes to gaming we did partner with the No. 1 racing game developer; we didn't create it ourselves, but decided to find the best. Second, the car itself --- in the game --- is very realistic. But we have the added element of [someone] winning the actual vehicle."